Archive for April, 2008

What’s the point of the local London elections?

London Elects

In response to a question in the comments from eoinhouly:

…I do not view this mayoral election as meaningful. All major decisions regarding education, healthcare etc are made at parlimentary level and I feel this reduces the significance of the role they play.

They look after transport, policing and what else?

So, what is the point of voting in the local London elections tomorrow?

I’ve already ranted about how valuable it is is just to keep out the BNP. Keeping fascists out of power, locally or nationally, is no small thing. You don’t hove to man the barricades, just vote.

But what about reasons to vote for someone, rather than against someone? What does the mayor and assembly do?

Transport, police, fire and emergency services, cultural strategy, economic development and local policy relating to waste, culture and sport, health, and climate change.

Hey, that’s a lot of stuff [see more about it at the Mayor of London website]. Especially in a city of 7.5 million people…practically a small country in some ways.

For me, planning and development is very important. Building and land use in London is something that will effect my quality of life directly, and shape the city for many years to come.

Culture and sport may sound superficial, but even if the local council isn’t out there making foreign policy (although ours kind of is) these things do effect our day-to-day life, especially for families living in London.

Not to mention that old voting cliché: if you don’t vote, you can’t complain. And god, I love to complain!

Bug mania

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We have entered that springtime phenomenon known (by me) as crazy fucked-up bug mania in London time. It’s when there seem to suddenly be a million bugs everywhere. Each new year, a new range of bugs going procreation mental.

It’s a great thing we can all bond over. “What is with all the frickin’ wasps this year, man?” “No kidding! It’s like killer wasp attack central!”

This year it seems to be moths and some medium-sized flightless black beetle that I’ve never seen before. I’ve literally never experienced moth damage, and now they are eating my shiznit. And the beetles are, for some unknown reason, obsessed with my bathroom and will break in by any means necessary. (I swear my house is clean.)

Usually I am all Ghandi about bugs and gently relocate them, but this time of year it wears me down and I start killing them in some fruitless attempt at persuasion. “For every one of you that comes into my bathroom, I will kill ten beetles in your village!”

Photo courtesy wurzeltod via Flickr

Spring Blooms in Covent Garden

Flowers
Just got back from L.A. and have been bitching and moaning about the weather since I stepped off the plane. I was actually wearing a spaghetti strapped dress three days ago…without a jumper on top. But, Spring is springing in London as well. “Spring Renaissance” will begin in Covent Garden on the 23rd of April. Horticultural events and celebrations will abound. Look out for the two giant 25 foot peacocks (I think maybe they are made of flowers and now real), return of the flower market, weekend workshops, hanging baskets and fun for the kiddies. Men were at work today planting stuff, so check it out! As a resident of Covent Garden, might I remind you to take your rubbish with you and don’t drink too much and vomit in the Piazza. It’s not a good look for anyone.

Tube strike threatened. Again.

Tube strike image courtesy of Ctrl-F5

During the few months I’ve been living in London, there have been at least two potentially catastrophic tube strikes called off. So when I see the BBC reporting that the RMT are planning yet another one, I can’t help but feel like I’m justified in suffering from strike-threat fatigue.

I don’t even get what the fuss is about, to be honest. Given that “TfL said it had assured the RMT that no staff would lose jobs or pensions, nor would any be transferred”, the fact that “the RMT wants a guarantee that Metronet workers will be allowed to join the TfL pension scheme and receive the same travel facilities as other TfL employees” seems like a pretty poor reason to try and bring an entire city to a standstill.

But don’t get me wrong, I’m a massive fan of unionisation and what it’s given this country, and others.

Actually, here’s a fantastic example from South Africa from this very week. Despite the fact that Zimbabwe has bought some arms from China – and that South Africa’s National Conventional Arms Control Committee has approved the transit of the weapons through the country – the members of the SATAWU union are refusing to unload the arms from the cargo ships because they disagree with their government’s lack of action on the issue.

Now that’s what I call solidarity. I suspect that if the RMT picked an issue that actually had a lot of public support to strike on, it’d be less likely to have to back down…

Mayoral Elections; the green view

Paddick, Berry, Livingstone, Johnson

If you’re going to vote in the upcoming elections for the London Mayor and Assembly, and have a bit of a green tint to you, it’s well worth checking out some of the recent podcasts on Guardian Environment Weekly.

This week featured the Lib Dem candidate Brian Paddick, last week it was the Labour incumbent Ken Livingstone – and I can only assume Boris Johnson is coming up soon! Oh, and the (easily) most attractive candidate in the race, the Greens’ Sian Berry, was on the show back in February. You can find the entire audio archive at www.guardian.co.uk/environment/environment+content/audio. (more…)

Tell the council: Fix my street!

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FixMyStreet is another wonderful, simple app from MySociety. Use it to quickly report graffiti, fly-tipping, broken streetlighting, or whatever blights your morning stroll.

All you have to do is enter your postcode, click a map to locate the issue, and even upload photos of your favourite eyesores. I reported a burned out scooter that brightens up my daily commute.

I also had a jolly time looking at posts from other complainers; very satisfying curtain-twitching.

Photo courtesy of El Freddy via Flickr

VOTE in the London elections Thursday, 1 May

London elections Thursday, 1 May

Politics may not be your bag. You may find it all overwhelming and depressing these days. You may prefer to vote for ice-dancing celebrities than boring people in suits. But it is more important than ever that you vote in this year’s London elections on May 1.

It is more important than ever that you vote in this year’s London elections on May 1

Whether you love Red Ken, find Boris charmingly hilarious, or fancy the pants off Brian Paddick (I do, all of the above, oddly).

You don’t even have to vote for mayor, if you can’t stomach it. Write “screw you, New World Order” on your mayoral ballot. But vote in the London Assembly vote, and vote to keep out the BNP.

That means voting for anyone else. This is because the London Assembly has ‘proportional representation’: any party that gets 5% of first choice votes is in with a chance of an assembly seat under the system.

According to the BBC, at the last London elections the BNP got 4.8% of the vote and the party is confident it will get at least one seat this May. The BNP has tried hard to change their image and hide their white supremacist hate views. Check out Searchlight’s Stop the BNP site to learn about the real BNP and their candidates.

Your vote does count in the London elections. The more people vote, the less likely it is that extremest parties of all kinds will win seats. The BNP is working hard to get out every single voter that will support them. All we have to do to stop them is get out every single voter that will support anyone else!

You don’t even have to be a British citizen; if you are a Commonwealth or EU citizen you can also vote. You must register to vote, but you have lots of time until the April16 deadline. (Being on the register of voters also helps with things like loan and mortgage applications.)

If you have never voted before, this is your chance to vote and know that it will make a difference!

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