This year will see the arrival of a new London Mayor as Boris Johnson end his second term after eight years. London is set to see a new Mayor take the stage, but who are the candidates and what are their promises? More importantly who are the people of East London rooting for and why? As nominations close this week, we look at the candidates and their key promises. Later in the month, Eastlondonlines will look more in depth at the candidates and some of the key issues, such as housing.
LABOUR: SADIQ KHAN
‘A Mayor for all Londoners’
Born in London and raised in a council house, the Labour MP for Tooting is pledging is to tackle London’s housing crisis, ‘far and away the biggest issue across the board.’ Son to a London bus driver, transport is also high on his list; he’s keen to make sure that travel prices for Londoners don’t continue to rocket. ‘A greener future is central to my vision for London’- the city’s catastrophic pollution levels are something Khan wants to address. He discusses at length in his manifesto that he aims to get London back on track following major policing cuts, an increase in violent crime, and to take on the extremism that’s making its way into society. ‘I want to be the most pro-business mayor yet.’ He thanks London for his success, and vows to support small businesses and champion London across the globe. Currently leading in the polls.
Earlier this month, his parliamentary assistant Shueb Salar resigned after it was discovered that he had posted a series of highly offensive homophobic, misogynist and dangerous tweets. Questions were raised about the legitimacy of Khan’s screening process, and people were asking ‘how could he not know?’.
CONSERVATIVE: ZAC GOLDSMITH
‘Delivering for Londoners’
The smoker who opposed the smoking ban, a Eurosceptic threatening to undermine Cameron and a mischievous history at Eton, Goldsmith is appealing to London’s playful side. The Richmond Park and North Kingston MP is a strong opponent of a third Heathrow runway. His action plan is to fix the housing crisis by doubling home building to 50,000 a year, improving London’s transport by taking control of suburban rail services, tackling air pollution and making London safer by putting police on public transport at night. Unlike Khan he was born into wealth as the son of late billionaire Sir James Goldsmith. But many of his policies are not so very different from Khan’s, so the choice might come down to personality rather than policy.
Goldsmith was asked by the Jewish community to apologise for comments he made, comparing pig farms to Auschwitz. “I don’t particularly want a plate of grilled tumours which has come from a pig tortured under Auschwitz-like conditions.”
LIBERAL DEMOCRATS: CAROLINE PIDEGEON
“Not to be something, but to ‘do’ something for Londoners.”
Caroline Pidgeon believes that her party is the one that shares Londoners values. With a poor opinion of Boris Johnson (“For eight long years I’ve seen Boris staring vainly into the mirror, at his own ambition,”), Pidgeon has vowed to make the Liberal Democrats a serious player once again. Her campaign will deal mainly with housing supply, the dangerous pollution levels London is currently struggling to maintain, transport fares and unlike the other candidates, she wants to try to challenge the flexibility and affordability of childcare for Londoners, to overcome the gap in employment for single parents/families and the ‘brain drain’ in London’s economy. Her HGV ban at morning and evening peak travel times has received a mixture of support and dismissal as a possibility.
Pidgeon’s record so far is clear, although she has commented on the character of her fellow competitors. “I’m not an outsider, we haven’t got any big personalities like Boris or Ken running.” Her most difficult challenge is to convince Londoners that the Liberal Democrat’s can be trusted again.
UKIP: PETER WHITTLE
“A candidate who is passionate about it’s [London] heritage, culture and its people.”
Born in Peckham and now residing in Woolwich, the former journalist and the party’s Culture spokesman, Whittle seems to be a little less aggressive in his approach to UKIP style policies. His campaign promises to deal predominantly with the housing crisis that all the candidates have addressed. However, the UKIP candidate wants to pay more attention to the increased pressure on London and places blame upon ‘the key drivers of these pressures: decades of uncontrolled immigration.’
UKIP is without a doubt the UK’s most controversial main political party, so far Whittle appears to be keeping rather a low profile. He has slammed middle-class white voters, calling them the least open minded of them all.
GREEN: SIAN BERRY
“Believe in the power of good ideas.”
Despite coming fourth back in 2008, Berry has grown with the party and is now more of a force to be reckoned with. Her policies follow the distinct Green Party platform: she plans to back the ‘one-hour ticket’ for buses concept, provide cheaper, greener energy and put pressure on the Government for rent controls to tackle the housing crisis.
With the two main candidates, particularly Goldsmith, trumpeting their green credentials, the actual Greens are likely to get squeezed again.
It would seem that all five of the major candidates share many of the same desires for London, and all have one common goal: to make this city affordable for those who live there, and to save the environment around them. It’s also important to remember that many parties have yet to decide who will be representing them in the elections and nominations close this week on March 31.
Reporting and video by Holly Gazzard and Jordan Langshaw