The Conservative Party, good to their word, have today opened the primary for selecting their candidate for the London mayoral elections in May 2008.
A primary, for those of you who haven't studied US politics to degree level or caught at least a few episodes of the West Wing, is the public procedure for selecting political candidates, rather than allowing three men and a dog to do it in a draughty community centre on a Wednesday night (not being Tories, we're assuming that's how they used to do it). Anyhow, we've not had primaries in Britain before, and the Tories are trying to look modern and inclusive by using one to
rubberstamp Boris Johnson pick from the excellent range of applicants who put themselves forward.
Apparently 'To register to vote the individual must be on London's electoral role [sic.]. Voters in the primary will be able to attend hustings being held across London at the start of September.' In theory, you can choose from Andrew Boff, Victoria Borwick, Warwick Lightfoot and some bloke called Boris Johnson. However, there's nothing to stop you writing in your own preferred candidate, as is often the way in the US. Hey, if they want to use their methods of democracy then they better get used to the outcomes.
Suitable write-in candidates could include:
- Sebastian Coe. So what if he refused to stand first time round?
- Steve Norris. Third time lucky?
- Jeffrey Archer. Well, he wanted the job before, what's to say he doesn't now?
- Greg Dyke. Screw Ming Campbell and his dithering, get him on the ballot paper.
- Ken Livingstone himself. That would really confuse people.
You don't get democracy on the cheap though. To register you need to call a premium rate number for a mere £1.50, which we can all agree is a small price to pay for the future of our capital. Let's just hope the phonelines aren't managed by GMTV.