My vote for the London Mayoral election is for Ken #sunnyknifesken


3:48 pm - May 2nd 2012

by Sunny Hundal    


      Share on Tumblr

It’s a surreal experience, not only watching your name trend on Twitter, but on the back of so many people just making up stuff about you.

In answer to someone’s question, I said on Twitter today that I would be voting for Jenny Jones as my first preference and Ken Livingstone as my second preference.

I also pointed out that I wanted Ken to win the election. Nevertheless, right-wingers have spun it as ‘Sunny abandons Ken’ and #sunnyknifesKen.

In 2008 I voted for Sian Berry on first preference and Ken on second preference.

Does it mean I don’t want Ken to win? Of course not? Does it mean I prefer the Green candidate over the Labour candidate? No it doesn’t.

It means I can register support for Jenny Jones while ensuring Ken gets my vote too.

So why not vote for Ken first? Because London’s SV system doesn’t quite help.

If no candidate gets 50% of the vote (which is a safe bet, and if Boris were close I’d vote for Ken as first pref) – then the candidates with the lowest vote shares get eliminated.

This means that a second preference for Jenny would be discarded as she would not get to the second round.

Going by the polls, Boris and Ken will have second preferences distributed to them.

This way I can register support for Jenny’s green policies while ensuring my vote also supports Ken.

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog ,London Mayor

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


ah I trhought the right wing tweets were a distortion!

2. Chaise Guevara

Whoever’s accusing you of abandoning Ken on this basis is spreading bullshit of the highest order. Perhaps they need to be educated on difficult topics like how the mayoral election works?

3. Alex Hilton

Your maths is off Sunny.

Any 1st preference vote for any candidate who is not Boris reduces the chances of him achieving 50% in the first round. Makes no difference whether that’s Ken or another candidate.

4. Kulvinder

I agree with you and have been frankly astonished that people who should know better can’t understand (or do understand and refuse to accept) the way the voting system works. It isn’t even a right/left split its more a ‘westminster bubble’ / ‘voting population’ split.

Even the BTL commentators on Daniel Knowles’s blog are disagreeing with him:

http://tgr.ph/IvoB6D

5. Planeshift

“Perhaps they need to be educated on difficult topics like how the mayoral election works?”

Given the record of tories on electoral reform, they need to be educated on how numerous electoral systems work. No wonder many of them regard ‘its simple to understand’ as a strength of FPTP – they are not capable of understanding anything more complex.

You say you will be “voting for Jenny Jones as my first preference”.

You say “Does it mean I prefer the Green candidate over the Labour candidate? No it doesn’t.”

It just means she’s your first preference, not that you prefer her. Only a right-winger could get that confused.

The guide explaining the voting system – you can see it at http://www.londonelects.org.uk/im-voter/how-vote – explains very clearly how the system works.

“Vote for your first choice candidate by marking a cross (X) in the first choice column
“Vote for your second choice candidate by marking a cross (X) in the second choice column”

Your “first choice candidate” is Jenny Jones. Your “second choice candidate” is Ken.

Anyone who doesn’t understand that needs educating about the electoral system (maybe you could send them a link to the website above?)

@hobson Sunny is voting tactically.

His first preference is for Ken; his second preference is for Jenny, but his vote is more effective if he inverts those preferences on the ballot paper.

Under all electoral systems, the Gibbard–Satterthwaite Theorem shows that there are circumstances where a voter would prefer to vote in a manner not in accordance with the instructions on how to translate your sincere preference order into a ballot order.

Sunny has encountered such a situation under SV and is stating clearly what his sincere preference order is and how he has chosen to express that through his ballot paper.

Just to back up Alex Hilton on maths – if Boris was going to get more than 50% then it doesn’t matter what order you put Ken and Jenny the still gets more than 50% of the vote.

The scenario where it does make a difference is if he is going to struggle to make the top two – which frankly is unthinkable inn this election. The last time Labour came third in a London Mayoral was when Ken was the independent candidate.

Any 1st preference vote for any candidate who is not Boris reduces the chances of him achieving 50% in the first round.

If Boris gets over 50% it won’t be due to my votes or that of most LC readers anyway. At that point the contest becomes redundant anyway and it doesn’t matter whether Ken was my first pref or not.

Edit: I misread your point Alex, you’re of course right.

Just to be clear on the maths.

As with all elections, it is a statistical near certainty that your vote will make no difference whatever to the result of the election.

So let’s start from there….

11. Man on Clapham Omnibus

It may help in this discussion to understand that recent scientific evidence suggests that Tories are less able to think than Liberals. Its more of a cognitve issue than numeracy one. Quite apart from that all power to the Telegraph for hiring the under age Daniel Knowles.

12. Matt Wardman

For me, JJ lost *any* chance of credibility (leaving aside the Greens lacking any anyway) when she started ranting away about the Met being like the Syrian Police, without providing any evidence of the Mass Graves on Hampstead Heath.

“voting for Jenny Jones as my first preference and Ken Livingstone as my second preference.”

Ah but the Gibbard–Satterthwaite Theorem clearly shows that this makes Ken his first preference.

I’m so angry at people who can’t understand this grrr

14. Matt Wardman

But, not being in London, I don’t matter,

Didn’t Jenny Jones, when booed for her no free transport for students policy at the London Citizens mayoral debate, claim “no, you’re not allowed to boo me, they [the organizers] said so”.
Yet she’s your first choice?

16. paul barker

I should begin by saying that I am libdem & so neutral between labour factions.
Sunnys actions raise a difficult point. Theres only one absolute condition for membership of a political party, that you dont campaign for candidates running against your parties own. In this case that has to mean on the 1st choice, this isnt a primary.

It all depends on whether you think admitting that you will vote for another party, before the election is over counts as campaigning. For someone with a public presence I think it does.

Presumably, the Greens are celebrating our “no growth” economy and view with dismay the prospect of renewed growth of Britain’s GDP if and when that happens.

Sunny’s decision to put the Green at No1 will almost certainly not make any difference for the SV reasons set out.

But that’s not really the point. If lots of Labour supporters voted on the same basis as Sunny, the Green would enter Round 2 of the ballot at Labour’s expense, something he presumably doesn’t want to see happen. Thus, by relying on the assumption that most Labour supporters won’t act like he does, Sunny is simply freeloading on other Labour members.

This is a deeply unethical act by a member of the Labour party, which retains solidarity as a core value. That’s why the rule book on supporting candidates from other parties is as it is.

19. Hodge Podge

@Paul I think solidarity with members of your own party rather than solidarity with humanity is part of the problem.

20. the madmullahofbricklane

I think you are overestimating your importance Sunny. I have to tell you that you are not exactly a topic of conversation in the East End of London at the moment.

21. Mr Eugenides

This is paradigm-shifting. Tactical voting, as commonly understood, means casting your vote for a candidate who may not be your first choice in order to maximise the chance of your opponent not getting in. But that’s the old politics. Sunny sees that, even if you all don’t.

Thus, by relying on the assumption that most Labour supporters won’t act like he does, Sunny is simply freeloading on other Labour members.

Not exactly Paul – London voters far outnumber Labour members. So even if all Labour members in London voted this way, it wouldn’t put Jenny ahead of Ken.

23. White Trash

17 -: “Presumably, the Greens are celebrating our “no growth” economy and view with dismay the prospect of renewed growth of Britain’s GDP if and when that happens.”

Well they should be, Bob, but being superficial materialists rather than real ecologists, most of them probably aren’t. However, It’s also fair to say that we need to radically alter the quality of our economic behaviour at the same time as reducing our quantitative impact as well. Quite a task for most.

Oh well, in a few million years time who’ll notice the difference? Our extinct society will just be just another compressed layer of rock to match the KT boundary!

24. john reid

Re: alex commet and Sunny’s in the article Sunny surely you should amend your article, SO Alex it’s with Regret I’ll have to vote Siobhan second choice

25. Chaise Guevara

@ 20

“I think you are overestimating your importance Sunny. I have to tell you that you are not exactly a topic of conversation in the East End of London at the moment.”

Tell that to the people twittering about him. It’s hardly arrogant to respond to false claims about yourself.

Accusing Sunny of knifing Ken by not voting for him as a first preference is a cheap finger-jabby bit of yah-boo political hackery. Which, in the circumstances, is entirely appropriate isn’t it?

You’ve voted exactly as I have.

I wish the Green could get a lot more votes, even into power, but its a 2 horse race as has been for my entire voting life.

So Green for the vote with my heart/head, and Labour to keep out the Tories. Ken is the lesser of two evils in my book.

@ 27. Russ

With respect Russ, you’ve voted in a different way to Sunny, even if you put your crosses in the same boxes. If I understood you correctly, you voted for the candidate you really support as your first preference, and for the lesser of two evils – the least bad candidate out of the ones that might actually win – as your second preference.

Sunny claims that he’s voting for the candidate he actually supports as his second preference.

The difficulty is that most people understand the voting system, quite reasonably, in the same way as you. They think that your first preference goes to the candidate or party that you really support the most.

This matters because the votes are going to be counted up and the results published. Sunny and his apologists seem to understand the importance of these numbers to some extent. After all, the only reason for voting Green (for Sunny) is to boost Jenny Jones’ numbers and send a message that there is support for Green policies out there. But I’m afraid that while the number of first preferences received by the Greens will no doubt be reported, the world is going to be far more interested in the gap between Boris and Ken.

The more that Boris beats Ken in the first round, the worse it looks for Ken, for Labour and for Ed Miliband. Of course I accept that this will be offset to an extent by the results in the second round of counting, once votes have been transferred, but the gap in the first round will still matter.

If you actually support the Labour Party and want to strengthen Ed’s hand and limit the propaganda value to the Tories of a win in London, then the only sensible thing to do is to vote Labour as your first choice in the London mayoral election.

I don’t have a bad word to say about the Green Party and its supporters. No doubt you will vote Green as your first choice, and it’s great if there are Greens who are going to put Ken second.

To any Labour supporters though, I hope you will not follow Sunny’s example or be fooled by his bizarre logic, and will put Labour first.

29. Albert Spangler

Bob B

You keep mentioning this… what part of our economy would you say is sustainable at the moment?

From what I understand, the Greens argue for a shift in how our economy works so that it doesn’t need continual growth to sustain itself. To quote one I was speaking to on this subject a while ago, you would have to “grow into a sustainable economy”, not let the current one destroy itself through stagflation.

30. Samuel Allan

You’ve got it wrong. If Boris is close to 50%, any vote for someone else is a vote against Boris winning outright. The only way you can effect Boris’ chance of an outright win is to vote for him. Therefore, the time to vote for Ken (if you want him to win) is when he is close to 50%, because you improve his chances of an outright win, and reduce the chance of a run-off which he might lose.

I’d rather give my first preference to a socialist like Ken Livingstone. The need for socialism is by far the main issue in modern politics.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. In response to Daniel Knowles. Why Sunny Hundal is right to back Jenny Jones. | Hynd's Blog

    [...] why would Sunny support a Green if he is a signed up member of the Labour Party? Something Harry Cole has joyfully attacked him [...]

  2. Purbeck Pashmina

    My vote for the London Mayoral election is for Ken #sunnyknifesken | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/5RL3DA9Z via @libcon

  3. Funny Bunny

    Excellent explanation of a benefit of AV/STV/PR over FPTP by @sunny_hundal http://t.co/Cc8aXdhb #sunnyknifesken

  4. Richard

    Who and why I'm voting for in the London Mayoral elections tomorrow http://t.co/vzPOC3RP #sunnyknifesken

  5. representingthemambo

    My vote for the London Mayoral election is for Ken #sunnyknifesken | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/gq26jwJA via @libcon

  6. Natacha Kennedy

    #Sunnyknifesken demonstrates just how desperate the Tories are getting http://t.co/0jWCWYUS

  7. Ian wingrove

    Who and why I'm voting for in the London Mayoral elections tomorrow http://t.co/vzPOC3RP #sunnyknifesken

  8. Southwark Greens

    Who and why I'm voting for in the London Mayoral elections tomorrow http://t.co/vzPOC3RP #sunnyknifesken

  9. sunny hundal

    @ASocialistYahoo http://t.co/vzPOC3RP

  10. Paul Cotterill

    I'm afraid @sunny_hundal is wrong http://t.co/ZPuvYH0c

  11. Robert CP

    The nonsense about @sunny_hundal at least provides an opportunity to explain 1st/2nd preference clearly: http://t.co/fOQSmzPV

  12. BevR

    My vote for the London Mayoral election is for Ken #sunnyknifesken | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/5RL3DA9Z via @libcon

  13. Sunny Hundal’s Political Full House

    [...] stuff from the Hundal Monster, explaining to the world from how he will be voting in the London Mayoral [...]

  14. London mayor and local elections 2012 – live polling day coverage | HottestNewsFeed.com

    [...] 9.47am: The London voting system is different from that used at general elections, and seems to be causing a fair bit of confusion on Twitter. [...]

  15. London mayor and local elections 2012 – live polling day coverage | Dani News

    [...] 9.47am: The London voting system is different from that used at general elections, and seems to be causing a fair bit of confusion on Twitter. [...]

  16. London mayor and local elections 2012 – live polling day coverage | Old News

    [...] 9.47am: The London voting system is different from that used at general elections, and seems to be causing a fair bit of confusion on Twitter. [...]

  17. Ben Diamond

    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2012/05/02/my-vote-for-the-london-mayoral-election-is-for-ken-sunnyknifesken/

  18. London mayor and local elections 2012 – live polling day coverage | Usefulmoney Advice & Information

    [...] 9.47am: The London voting system is different from that used at general elections, and seems to be causing a fair bit of confusion on Twitter. [...]

  19. Ohood

    Who and why I'm voting for in the London Mayoral elections tomorrow http://t.co/vzPOC3RP #sunnyknifesken

  20. London mayor and local elections 2012 – live polling day coverage

    [...] 9.47am: The London voting system is different from that used at general elections, and seems to be causing a fair bit of confusion on Twitter. [...]

  21. HarpyMarx

    I'm afraid @sunny_hundal is wrong http://t.co/ZPuvYH0c





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.