At the end of last week’s article, we said the following, ‘So far [during this election campaign] we haven’t heard enough from the Green’s Sian Berry or Independent Rory Stewart. Will we have heard more this time next week?’. The answer is a resounding yes, at least for Stewart.
The independent candidate finally joined in on the debate around crime, the matter most likely to decide this election.
The Evening Standard reported on Wednesday that Stewart promises to treble the number of police on London’s streets, adding another 2,350 officers. Also pledged was the introduction of surge teams that would be deployed in emergencies. This pledge came with an interesting caveat. Stewart stated that, if he had not fulfilled this promise after two years, he would resign.
This wasn’t the only move made by the Independent candidate. Stewart has also started a new bi-weekly column with The Independent. In the first of these articles he writes:
‘I believe the time has come for a clean break in London. After three political mayors, an independent-minded London has the chance of electing an independent mayor in May. True independence is not an individual activity — it comes from being much more than the sum of our parts. London can be a joint enterprise’.
Stewart’s hope that London can be an independent enterprise improved by independent inputs to create a more harmonious whole, follows on from his own 700 villages theory. But whilst he focusses on crime and column inches, Shaun Bailey appointed Greg Hands as the Chairman of his campaign.
In his first statement, Hands commented that London should look to adopt, or at least adapt, a version of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s crime prevention strategy. Giuliani applied the Broken Windows theory, in which you target minor crimes to create an environment that puts off criminals from committing more serious ones. This resulted in a dramatic fall in the crime rate in New York during the 1990s.
Whether this strategy would work (or even have public support) in London is another matter. Tellingly, it comes at a time when a poll by The Populus revealed 74 per cent of Londoners believe crime in London is out of hand.
Sadiq Khan bucked the trend by not announcing new crime policies. Instead his focus was on the environment. First he promised that, should he win the election on May 7th, London would be carbon neutral by 2030. An ambitious claim but not entirely impossible with some dramatic, but more importantly, fulfilled and enforced policies.
Second came changes to the Van Scrappage scheme. To try to incentivise London businesses to give up their ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vans, they currently get subsidies when buying cleaner vehicles if they scrap their ICE vans. Khan announced changes that included the doubling of these subsidies and widening the criteria for whom they apply to. From microbusinesses (10 employees or fewer) to businesses with fifty or less employees.
Whilst there was focus on the environment and police numbers this week, we noticed that the candidates failed to make a statement regarding a troubling study result announced by YouGov. This found that over 50 per cent of women and 21 per cent of men say they have suffered sexual harassment on public transport in London, with thousands of potential cases unreported.
It is this last point that we hope the candidates will address and announce their solutions to as we edge closer to the vote.