Mayor for London 2016 – The choice.

This week Londoners are being asked to vote. No, not for the The Voice or for a garden bridge but for a new Mayor. When it comes to politics I don’t do tribes. The war paint doesn’t suit me.  So I find myself having to decide on merit from the full list on my postal ballot paper and the list is VERY long.

Creating a Short List

Before reading manifesto’s lets whittle it down a bit. Out goes any party that has a religion in their name. A brilliant tactic for European elections a rubbish one for 2016 Mayor Candidates. Which is probably why I live here. Next ensure that each candidate has bothered to create a coherent online strategy. This means picking out the candidates website from the top 10 Google results on their name. We could use Duck Duck Go but confusing the data junkies with false information trails on the internet is half the fun.Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 6.37.14 PM

As you would expect in 2016 everyone has a dedicated web presence with decent SEO. All except Paul Golding (Britain First – Putting Britain people first) and David Furness (British National Party). Perhaps they only appear on a British search engine ? Oh wait. David Furness brought up David Furnish and I got super distracted by the gossip columns.

Back to the list and I decided to leave Sophie Walker (Women’s Equality Party) , Ankit Love (One Love Party) and Lee Eli Harris (Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol) on the list even though their websites were really about their day job’s; author, film maker and cannabis campaigner respectively.

Zac Goldsmith (Conservative) nearly didn’t make the short list when his website failed to load instantaneously. Maybe he has forgotten to feed money in the meter  ?

In reverse alphabetical order we are left with the following ten website.


More shortlisting – Equality and Education

At my finger spaced reading speed the election day will have gone past before I have assessed all ten candidates. More short listing. This time using a keywords search to scan the manifesto section of each website to understand if the candidates care about equality and education. The two things I care passionately about.

Going alphabetically this time my heart sinks Sian Berry (Green) manifesto is clear and sign posted. Providing sub manifesto’s for LGBT and BAME. The LGBT manifesto even talks about equal education rights. If everyone is this coherent  I will be reading every word of every manifesto.

Thankfully George Galloway has no real manifesto – off the list. Peter Whittle also has no real manifesto but the algorithm search highlights he has a think tank and has lived in America – gone.  Ankit Love doesn’t mention equality or education but does want 6 new bridges for east London – off the list.  Finally Prince Zylinski fails to mention equality or education and his manifesto is translated by Ewa Lewak-Steed. We just don’t have time to find out why – off the list.

Sophie Walker also has no manifesto on her day job related website. She doesn’t even mention her candidacy.  So off to the party website and then it dawn’s on me Women’s Equality Party has equality in their name and cake in their campaign video. So on this occasion they are staying in but they do need to get their web presence together and I think I even offered to help at their party launch event.

Finally we are left with two tricky decisions. Zac Goldsmith (Conservative) doesn’t mention equality or education on the manifesto part of his website. Downloading his 91 page pdf manifesto he does mention equality – once. On the other hand, Lee Haris mentions education and equality in regard  to consuming cannabis. I could leave both on the list, but I am not going to. I have to say I am disappointed I have been intrigued by Zac Goldsmith and had expected more, much more  from his campaign. My younger self would be equally disappointed in me for not considering a party that clearly stands up for drug choice.

Disappointment quickly turns to delight as there are now only 4 candidates left on my list Greens, Labour, Lib Dems and Womens Equality Party. As I have 4 votes to cast in this ballot it is time for a little dance around the living room. Except first we need to decide which order. Oh and perhaps I should find out a bit more about what these candidates have said on the campaign trail.

Therefore the next stage is determine how they stack up on ensuring that humans…

Manage the Robots before they control us

It is important to me that all humans control the algorithms that control our everyday lives. In my opinion we have worked very hard to ensure London is at the heart of algorithms control. We compete with California and no longer have to drive out to the M4 corridor for work. It is important to me and my work that we retain this position and we don’t find ourself forced into finding opportunities elsewhere. For all the positives in London, we lack accessible funding avenues, skilled programmers, cost effecting housing  and the cost of travel means most teams work remotely. It means retaining our position isn’t as slick as the technology we are producing.

Reading each of the manifestos  with this in mind a few things jump out. The Womens Equality Party  focused on promoting Women Entrepreneurship and cheap child care. Each of the Liberal Democrats policy areas would directly help the technology industry.  Labour is more aspirational then me as they think “London can become a world-leading tech hub” so by implication isn’t there yet. Unlike Women’s Equality Party they want gender blind education. The Greens have technology embedded in her policies but not factored out separately like Labour.

The Winner…

Is this the cleverest way to decide which way to vote. No. Was it fun. Absolutely. Did it successfully avoid reading any newspaper article on the subject. Yes. Can I hold my own in a pub debate. Try me.

With Labour having the only clear technology strategy in my short list Sadiq Khan is getting my mayor vote. The rest will be slotted in based on what ballot they are standing on and in line with our complicated but excellent counting process.

If there was a box for “none of the above” this would be a much longer post.



Kavita is an advisor to Micro:Bit Educational Foundation and Tido. She writes about technology and business. She is mostly based in London. You can contact her directly or via twitter (kavitakapoor)