London mayor hopefuls court black voters

Electoral system gives minorities a strong hand.

BLACK and Asian voters would have an influential role in the election of a London mayor, and prospective candidates are already courting the capital's ethnic minorities.

Votes would be cast under a "supplementary vote" system, in which voters list their first and second choices. With this system, the votes of minority groups tend to carry more weight than in a first-past-the- post election.

As a result, the leading candidates are bidding for the widest possible support. Lord Archer, the author; Trevor Phillips, the broadcaster; and the MPs Ken Livingstone, Glenda Jackson and Simon Hughes have all lent their support to the Operation Black Vote (OBV) group, which is trying to increase the political involvement of the capital's blacks and Asians.

Later this month, all of them, bar Ms Jackson, will sit on a panel at a public meeting being staged in Westminster by OBV and another group, Black Londoners for a Strategic Authority.

In the same week, two as-yet unnamed cabinet ministers are expected to meet with OBV representatives to discuss race relations in the capital.

OBV was formed in 1996 to try to increase black and Asian electoral registration and turn-out, which is traditionally low, particularly among the young. According to a survey for Time Out, London's news and events magazine, only half of the capital's black people aged between 18 and 35 are registered to vote.

Now, OBV sees the Government's proposal for a London mayor and a 25-member assembly as the best opportunity in recent years for non-whites to flex their political muscle. This is because, low participation notwithstanding, ethnic minorities form a substantial part of the capital's population. According to the London Research Centre, 24.4 per cent of the capital's inhabitants are black or Asian.

The courting of OBV by possible mayoral candidates began in October when Lord Archer, Mr Livingstone and Mr Hughes took part in an OBV public meeting. After the meeting, Lord Archer invited OBV to join the Greater London forum, his non-partisan committee on increased democracy in the capital.

In the new year, OBV were asked to take part in the YES campaign, which is being chaired by Trevor Phillips and is calling on Londoners to endorse the plans for a mayor and assembly in the referendum on the issue, to be held on 7 May.

Last month, Glenda Jackson helped launch OBV's poster campaign for the referendum and the capital's local elections.

The joint chairman of OBV, Simon Woolley, says he is under no illusions as to why many of the leading prospective candidates are so keen to associate themselves with the group.

He said: "I think the interest we're attracting has little to do with a love for black and Asians communities, but has more to do with the power of the non-white vote. This is the first time in British political history that the ethnic minorities will have had such a strong hand in the electoral process."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Sport
footballBrighton vs Arsenal match report
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us