Daniel Knowles has penned one of those knee jerk blogs (the day before an election with a popular story trending on twitter) which is not only wrong in places but it also misrepresents a perfectly logical statement that Sunny Hundal made earlier today. In the article, Knowles attacks the Liberal Conspiracy editor for saying he is voting for Jenny Jones (Green) as his first preference and Ken Livingstone for his second. A logical move in my mind for a centre left liberal but one that has been attacked across blogosphere.
The London Mayoral Election uses the Supplementary Vote system (SV). This is different to the Single Transferable Vote (STV) (not knowing the difference between the two is not a pre-requisite for blogging in the Torygraph). This means that you can vote for both a ‘first’ and ‘second’ preference. This does not however mean who you vote for has to reflect your ‘order of preference’.
As with all voting it is strategic. Jenny Jones is unlikely to win the contest so many (including Sunny) see giving her their ‘second preference’ vote as a ‘waste’ (the 2nd votes are used to top up a candidate to ensure one of the top 2 candidate gets over 50% – something unlikely to happen to Jenny). There is no harm however in giving her your ‘first preference’ vote, as this (assuming she is not in first or second place at the end of round 1) will then be redistributed to the ‘second preference’ (either Ken or Boris).
The same applies to Brian Paddick (Lib Dem) – who is equally as unlikely to win as Jenny Jones. You can vote for a smaller party to begin with and then give your second vote to whoever you don’t want to win; either Boris (Con) or Ken (Lab) – the ‘two horse race’.
The reverse however is not true. If you voted Boris or Ken as your ‘first preference’, your second vote is unlikely to be counted and so your second vote is likely to be a ‘waste’.
So why would Sunny support a Green if he is a signed up member of the Labour Party? Something Harry Cole has joyfully attacked him for. I would have to ask him to know for sure but on twitter he has said, “[to] register support for Green policies”. Whether this is a nod to environmentalism or a wider acknowledgment of the Green Party’s agenda on social justice I am not 100% sure. Regardless he makes a point. I would prefer to have Ken as Mayor than Boris but this is not to say Ken is my perfect choice. Ken is not stupid, he is aware about the demographics of his support and tailors his policies accordingly. A big turnout for Jenny sends him a clear message to him.
On twitter however people have gleefully taken up the hashtag of #sunnyknifesken, missing the fact that it makes no difference if you give Ken your ‘first’ or ‘second’ vote – it will all get added to his pile in the end. What Sunny has essentially done saying he will vote Jenny Jones first and Ken Livingstone second is to say he wants Ken to be Mayor but that he supports Green principles and thinks that should be reflected in the vote. For me this is a logical and admirable strategy for anyone on the centre left.
As far as I can tell this is a positive voting decision, not an attack on Ken like the right on twittersphere would like it to be. Knowles article though seems to miss the subtleties of this voting system and the sort of liberal left politics that Sunny stands for.