Ask any of the London mayoral candidates what the best city in the world is and they will tell you with all the passion they can muster, that it is London and it always will be. How convenient. But this universal truth is slowly exposing itself as one of the biggest lies in British politics.
The stark truth about London is that it now has the highest murder rate for 11 years. With knife crime rising every year, the air becomes more polluted every single day and the underground system is creaking under pressure.
Affordable housing is harder to find than Boris Johnson in a fridge factory and action on homelessness is needed now, more than ever. And that is before you even begin to look at the fiasco that TFL’s finances are. The list of issues shows what quite a few of us have known about London for many years; it is no longer moving forward, and Sadiq Khan is not doing enough about it.
Even those who support the current Mayor seem to have no better defence than that it is all the government’s fault. Not exactly an inspired defence, is it? It seems to have come as a shock to the Mayor that millions of pounds on fountains, diversity adverts and his own PR department have done little to solve some of the most pressing issues. So, the obvious question, if the mayoral race had gone ahead as planned: why would Londoners have voted for the same man who has failed them for the last four years? To use a word that would strike fear into the hearts of many a Londoner: Brexit.
If there is one thing Londoners hate more than a failing mayor, its evoking Article 50. It is still an issue for many, and understandably so. This has been a time of great uncertainty for Londoners who feel more cast adrift from the rest of the country than ever before.
Stopping short of voting to make London an independent, European-loving, Eurovision-watching nation with pictures of Jean Claude Junker on every street corner; it is reasonable to vote for the man claiming to be as anti-Brexit as Jo Swinson dressed head to toe in blue and yellow, singing the European Union nation anthem and swigging polish vodka next to Michel Barnier. Unfortunately, if this is true, then the claim can be made that London voted for a man simply because he put on a fireworks display. Surely that cannot be the best we’ve got? Surely London can look forward and vote for hope and change?
I am not claiming that London should not be worried about Brexit. And in the Mayor’s defence, his attempt to stop Brexit did work remarkably well for him. But, would it not be better for London if Sadiq Khan focused on London’s issues?
All the evidence suggests that this mayor has failed on every single promise that he set himself, and on every single indicator that can measure his performance. How can London, in all good conscience, reward such amounts of failure and inaction and be considered reasonable? To quote Albert Einstein:
‘Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’.
Of course, according to the complete moral authority and omnibenevolence of Sadiq Khan, it was all the government’s fault and he should be exonerated of any responsibility. It really is rather incredible that according to the London Mayor, we do not need a London mayor that can bring positive change!
If like myself, you now see it as obvious that he simply cannot be allowed to continue to run London into the ground, the next question is who else? This, I admit is where I too was stumped. The idea that London could ever vote for a Conservative in the current climate is as about as likely as Kier Starmer being voted the world’s most interesting man. If London is to vote for real change and positivity, then it should look outside the two main parties and the traditional polarization that has hindered London for so many years. The answer, for me, is Siobhan Benita and the Lib Dems with their plan to get London moving forward again. Alongside her forward-thinking plans for policing, housing and the environment, she has a history of community engagement that seems well-placed to pick up from where Rory Stewart left off.
I urge you, when you get the chance to vote, look at all the candidates and ask yourself the following questions:
- Who on this list would be engaged and proactive in the community?
- Who would actually look to fix London’s problems?
- Who will stop trying to divide London from the rest of country?
There is a chance that London can move on from the negativity and failure of the past four years. But it must be courageous and vote for it.