2 April 2008

London mayoral race hots up over tussle

LONDON (Reuters) - The race to be mayor of London took a twist on Wednesday when a far-right party offered backing to the frontrunner, who quickly distanced himself from the unwanted endorsement.

The British National Party, known for its anti-immigrant views, said supporters should vote for its candidate as their first choice and feel free to list Boris Johnson (left), a conservative who currently leads the polls, as their second choice.

"A second choice vote for him gives you the chance to vote BNP as your first preference and still vote to get Livingstone out of office," the party said on its Web site, referring to the incumbent mayor.

"In this race, the Tory clown Johnson is a lesser evil than the Marxist crank Livingstone," the party explained. Tory is a word used to describe Britain's Conservative party, for whom Johnson is a member of parliament.

More than five million Londoners are due to vote in the election for mayor on May 1, casting a ballot not only for their top choice to run the city and its 11 billion pound ($22 billion) budget, but for their number two candidate as well.

Johnson, an ex-journalist with a cartoonish reputation who is known for making brash comments, sought to distance himself from the BNP, saying he wanted nothing to do with the party.

"Boris thinks the BNP doesn't represent the views of the London he knows and loves," said a campaign spokeswoman, Katie Perrior.

"I think people know Boris well enough to know that he would never have the same views as the British National Party."

It was Livingstone, who has been mayor since 2000 but is lagging Johnson in the polls, whose campaign pointed out the BNP's second preference comment, and appeared to use the endorsement to score political points.

"That the BNP have called for a second preference vote to the Tory against me is no surprise," Livingstone said in a statement emailed to journalists.

"I hate and despise everything the BNP stand for as against every value of London as a great multi-ethnic, tolerant and diverse city."

London only created the position of an elected mayor in 2000, but already it is one of the most hotly contested elections in the country, closely followed by national leaders who can gain leverage from the results.

As well as Livingstone and Johnson, the leading four candidates include a gay former police chief and a 33-year-old member of the Green Party.

Issues on the agenda for the winner include the environment, cutting down on teenage crime, improving roads and cycle lanes, investing more in public transport and keeping the city at the forefront of finance, where it has become a global leader.

(Reporting by Luke Baker; Editing by Matthew Jones)


BNP assembly candidate quits after blog row

A BNP London Assembly candidate has quit after a row over controversial comments he made on his blog.

Nick Eriksen, who lives in Richmond, was criticised after it was revealed he had posted comments saying women would be more bothered by having their handbag stolen than by being raped.

Until his resignation Mr Eriksen BNP's London organiser was the second-highest candidate on its list for the Assembly.

In the posts, made under the name Sir John Bull in August 2005, the former Tory councillor wrote: "I've never understood why so many men have allowed themselves to be brainwashed by the feminazi myth machine into believing that rape is such a serious crime ... Rape is simply sex. Women enjoy sex, so rape cannot be such a terrible physical ordeal."

He added: "To suggest that rape, when conducted without violence, is a serious crime is like suggesting force-feeding a woman chocolate cake is a heinous offence."

A spokesman for the British National Party explained this morning that although Mr Eriksen had done the "honourable thing" and resigned he felt his comments were taken out of context.

"The BNP is a party that is tough on crime. And to prevent any confusion Nick has decided to do the honourable thing and resign," the spokesman said.

On the blog - billed as Britain's most hard-hitting, controversial and politically incorrect - Mr Eriksen also states men are more intelligent than women, and mums who use nannies are not fit to care for their children.

Wimbledon Guardian

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Whatever Johnson says the damage is done. If he does beat Ken it will probably be because of the racist vote. Get out and vote for Ken!