The Imperial Romans, around the time of Emperor Nero and later, were mad keen on Ben Hur style chariot racing in the Circus Maximus. The four racing stables became established as the four factiones i.e. factions - the Red, the White, the Blue and the Green. Both the charioteers and their fanatical mobs of supporters, would display these colours at these sporting / betting / rioting events, and this also spilled into political elections as well.
Given the dyestuffs available to them, the only other major colour available was the expensive Tyrolean Purple, which was reserved for the Senate (purple edges to white togas) and the Emperor himself who could afford a whole purple toga.
What is surprising about this election for Mayor of London and for the Greater London Assembly is the breakdown of traditional British political party Colour Schemes / Identities.
The number of voters who choose their candidates because of their Colour Schemes is probably going to be significant in a close race.
It looks as if the spin doctors and image consultants have been trying to manipulate the public image of, and in some cases, to totally hide, the party political machines behind most of the candidates.
This is evident on the Candidates' websites and in the official London Elects booklet which is being delivered to every household.
- Richard Barnbrook of the BNP has a Red, White and Mauve colour scheme. - not quite the Union Jack, is it ?
- Lindsey German of the Left List, has a Light Green and Red and Black and White and Red logos - not quite the Red Flag, is it ?
- Boris Johnson has Conservative Blue logos, but these are more Cambridge Light Blue rather than Oxford Dark Blue, and then there is the peculiar Green "oak tree" / squiggle logo. However, Boris's website graphics are Blue, Green, Orange and Red.
- Siân Berry of the Green party, probably has deviated least from her traditional party colours - she does, have Green and White and black graphics, although some of her downloadable posters are much more multi-coloured.
- Brian Paddick of the Liberal Democrats strted off with browns and oranges, but now has lots of Blue backgrounds on his website, and his London Elects booklet section is Purple, Yellow, Black, White and Orange, but predominantly Purple and Yellow. - not the traditional Yellow / Orange that the Liberal Democrats are associated with.
- Gerard Batten of the UK Independence Party, has stuck to his party's traditional colours of Purple and Yellow, which seem to have been confusingly borrowed by other candidates.
- Alan Craig of the Christian Choice (Or is it the Christian Peoples Alliance and Christian Party ?) uses a couple of shades of Purple with Light Blue.
- Matt O'Connor of the English Democrats had White and Red and Black, and so was, like UKIP, keeping to the traditional colours associated with his small party.
N.B. Matt O'Connor has stepped down as a Mayoral Candidate (and also from the London wide Party List), blaming lack of money and party organisation. The English Democrats press release hints at O'Connor's problem with alcohol.
Why should anybody vote for these incompetents ?
- Winston McKenzie, for some reason, does not appear in the London Elects booklet. His graphics rich, but user unfriendly Flash based website is mostly White, with Black and Bronze, Khaki and Silver.
- Ken Livingstone is the official Labour Party candidate, but he seems to be deliberately obscuring this as much as possible. If you look at the small print and zoom in on his website, you may spot a Labour Red Rose and the words Labour Party on the Donations page, but there is not a single mention of Labour in his section on the London Elects booklet.
You just have to "know" that his campaign HQ at 39 Victoria Street houses the Labour Party. It also houses, interestingly, Aegis Defence Services Ltd the largest UK Private Military Contractor company supplying mercenaries for security and intelligence snooping work in Iraq, something which is very unlikely to be just a coincidence.
Ken's primary colour scheme seems to be Purple and White, but there are web site pages in Light Blue, Dark Blue, Green, Brown, and an almost exact Liberal Democrat Orange / Yellow.
What there is no sign of at all is traditional Labour Party / Socialist Red.
Watching Ken Livingstone's increasingly grumpy demeanour on TV, and his focus on negative ad hominem attacks on his opponents , together with the Imperial Roman Purple and White colour scheme which he has adopted, evokes the image of Kenneth Williams as Julius Caesar in Carry on Cleo uttering :
"Infamy ! Infamy ! They've all got it in for me !"
[picture source - Daily Mail]