Another AGM and another stitch-up at the London Assembly.

I have just finished the London Assembly AGM where once again a Lib Dem/Labour/Green stitch up has excluded Conservatives from all the key positions. None of us on the Tory side lose any sleep over this, it is what we have come to expect but it is a timely warning as we consider how we plan to vote in tomorrow’s AV referendum.

The Yes to AV campaign spend a lot of their time (and a lot of ERS money) talking about fairness in the electoral system. But what is fairness? Is it fair that the political party which traditionally comes in a distant third at the London Assembly elections gains effective control of the body to which they are elected? I would suggest that it isn’t.

Since the London Assembly was created the Conservatives have been the electorally most successful party, we have always had the largest number of members and the largest share of the vote. One would have thought that under the quasi PR system that we were elected the popular will of London voters would be taken into account. Far from it.

click to enlarge

As these two graphs show not only has control of the assembly not gone with the flow of public opinion but a perverse situation has occurred where Chairmanship of the Assembly has regularly gone to the party that has come third. Through post election, back-room deal-making the Lib Dems have turned their 16% of support into 50% of the Chairmanships.

Clearly the Chairmanship of the Assembly is not the only key position at City Hall, much of the direction and tone of the Assembly’s work is driven by the committee chairs but the situation is even worse when the Chaimanships of the key Assembly committees is analysed. The Transport Committee, Budget Committee and Economic Development committee scrutinise the Mayor’s largest spending areas and have been chaired by either the Lib Dems or Labour for 89% of the time since the Assembly was created.

The message that one can take from this is that it really doesn’t matter who wins, who comes second or who comes a distant third, the Lib Dems are the winners. I don’t really blame the London Lib Dem leadership for what is a poke in the eye to the London electors, they have always tried to negotiate the best position that they can, what I blame is the skewed electoral system which give such disproportionate power to a party with so little electoral support.

If you want to see the reality of the political landscape post a Yes to AV vote look no further than the London Assembly.

19 responses to “Another AGM and another stitch-up at the London Assembly.

  1. You can't keep walking out of debates in protest about democracy. If you are going to walk out from your paid employment you should have to have a strike ballot of all GLA reps.

    Bringing a halt to democracy by walking out is contemptuous of London voters. And it is always Conservatives who are the first to object when tube workers go on strike.

  2. Jimmy,

    Your post is wrong in many ways:

    “You can't keep walking out of debates in protest about democracy.” – Yes we can, quorums exist for a reason and if the other parties have all their members then the meetings won't collapse. If they want to get their Assembly business through it is incumbent on them to whip their members to attend.

    “If you are going to walk out from your paid employment you should have to have a strike ballot of all GLA reps.” – We didn't walk out from my paid employment, I went to my office where I replied to constituency correspondence, then into a meeting with NetworkRail where I raised issues about track and signalling reliability on the SouthEastern network, then a meeting about how to ensure companies make full use of the High Street Fund, then a series of calls with councillors about local issues. Like all politics the time spent in the chamber is usually the least productive.

    “Bringing a halt to democracy by walking out is contemptuous of London voters.” – Thank you for implying that I can bring a halt to democracy, but that's a level of power usually reserved for left wing, authoritarian dictators. The contempt for the voters comes from the parties which have conspired to freeze out the members elected by 44% of Londoners.

    “And it is always Conservatives who are the first to object when tube workers go on strike.” – As I said above, we have not gone on strike, we didn't withdraw our labour we just did different work in a different part of the building.

  3. Can somebody suggest an electoral system to me where a party who don't have a majority can't be overruled by a coalition majority? How is this anything to do with AV or quasi-PR?

    If Labour had a few more seats at Westminster and the Lib Dems went into coalition with them you'd get an identical stitch-up but under the existing system…

  4. James, I think you will find that if you were not an elected representative, your action would constitute an illegal strike. (Something once called a 'Shop floor walkout'.)

    Withdrawing labour from a stated part of your employment in protest is still a strike. It may be a limited strike, but it is still a strike.

    Either have the moral authority to admit you are indeed refusing to work because you want better conditions, or do the work the people elected you to do.

    Do you really think this *won't* be put on your opponents leaflets at the next election?

  5. Not clever, Cleverly. You play political games when people are dying because of poor safety features introduced by your own party. Your action is downright insulting and selfish. So what you didn't get any key positions? That's what the vote said. You have to sick with that, bite the bullet and move on. Don't throw your toys out of the pram because of a technicality, or even that the vote didn't go your way. You have a job to do and walking out to deliberately scupper a motion that might have gone onto help people not die in the future is sickening.

    I know you've internally justified this position so reply away, but no justification for your action will make you seem any less callous, heartless and politically blinkered to all cyclists who are risking their lives unnecessarily in London. This post is not designed to enter you into a discourse about your action, it's to tell you how I (and many other) are shocked, appalled, upset and dismayed by it.

  6. what a disgrace you are to all hard working councillors across the UK for walking out and stoppng a debate on the safety of cyclists in London.

    from the article – 16 people have been killed while cycling in London this year…

    every one of those councilors who walked out should be named and shamed so their constituents know who they are and what they did, and so the families of the dead have a name to write to and tell them what they think. I for one find your actions disgusting and although I doubt youll have the balls to print this comment you should do us all a favour and resign at the earliest possible moment. Your a disgrace!

  7. where once again a Lib Dem/Labour/Green stitch up has excluded Conservatives from all the key positions

    You could say exactly the same about national government; just substitute “Conservative/Lib Dem stitch up”.

    Personally, I think you have a duty to attend debates. Personally, I'm disappointed that you walked out of the debate on cyclist deaths in London: the message you seem to be sending is that GLA Conservatives are content for young women to be crushed by HGVs on London's roads.

  8. Death on the road is apolitical James. You're playing politics with lives. I hope that sits well on your conscience.

  9. Preventing specific issues from being debated due to an unrelated gripe about your lack of chairmanship is utterly disgraceful.

    You claim it is the other parties responsibility to whip their members to get “their” business through.

    This business is politics, it's all of OUR business, and you are elected to be the voice of many, yet you choose instead to silence that voice.

    Perhaps this childish behaviour has shown exactly the reason why you've never been given a chairmanship.

  10. And yet you still appear petulant and childish, and another important discussion that has a material impact on people's lives is ignored.

    Well done.

  11. Hi,

    So if the tube drivers didn't withhold their labour but just did “different work in a different building” all day, it wouldn't be a strike and nobody should mind?

    Holding the assembly to ransom by refusing to participate sounds just like strike action to me – perhaps there's a notional difference that the spin doctors can cling on to, but it's not fooling anyone.

    Why should a party that refuses to perform its most basic duties be given any further responsibility?

    When you're mature enough to engage with the processes you were elected to serve under, then you can complain. In the meantime you're just disenfranchising the considerable majority who voted against the Tories in London.

    Very much a former Tory voter, I'm afraid (and one who is sympathetic with your complaint, but not to the point that I can tolerate your actions). If a party withdraws from the process, the rules on quorate should accommodate that by lowering the number proportionally.

  12. “Cleverly” – noun – the combined bodily fluids, dead cell tissue and pubic hair that accumulates in the padded gusset region of a pair of cycling shorts after having been worn for a week by a couch surfing messenger.

  13. Stop crying like a little girl about not being able to sit at the head of the table.

    16 cyclists deaths this year compared to 11 knife/gang stabbing deaths.

    Neither are condonable – but one certainly gets more colomn inches and media attention – which i presume you are more interesting in over the saftey of London road users.

    Grow up – what Britain and London doesn't need right now is selfish little men like you in politics

  14. How long can this go on for? We are saddled with this oaf for as long as he chooses to do the job. An embarrassment to Bexley and Bromley and whose only concern appears to be pleasing senior railway managers and ex-News International executives. Constituents whether cyclists, hospital patients or just those with a pulse are treated as vote fodder. He just doesn't get it: political procedure comes before lives and anyone who finds him out is 'obsessive'.

  15. A particularly low point for the London, the Assembly, The Conservative party, and for the families of those cyclists needlessly killed at unsafe junctions.

    Sorry, but the walkout is utterly shameful.

  16. Mr Cleverly you are an example of why people don't trust or like politicians any more, you're just out for yourselves while disrespecting the lives of those who have lost theirs on London's roads… shame on you. We deserve better than politicians like you. No reply needed.

  17. Where you said that you did some work instead; you might have had some people until you intimated that you were somehow tackling southeastern on reliability?! As if… How are Charles and the kids anyway? You haven't written about them and Mr Charlie's Feeling for Snow (that's a play on a book title Clevs) for a few weeks.

    Will you be giving back the salary you wasted this afternoon? I mean I know your whole salary (paid by me and others without choice) is a waste but we need to start somewhere.

    What a shame all these comments are conveniently buried on this old article, maybe you could move it to the front of your blog?

  18. To sabotage an important debate on road safety because you feel something is wrong with the allocation of administrative posts is shameful.

    You could have staged your own protest at a more appropriate time unless of course you have an agenda which regards cycle deaths as unimportant.

    Your sense of perspective, your judgement is faulty. Because of this you should consider your position.

  19. A politician putting his/her personal agenda above that of their constituents? Even when the matter relates to life and death?

    Having dealt with the London Assembly in the past and been fobbed off repeatedly by people who do not even bother to read the complaint, I am not surprised in the least.

    Politicians are children. Don't be naive, people.

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