diamond geezer

 Thursday, April 18, 2024

In precisely two weeks' time Londoners get their chance to vote for a new Mayor. They won't, they'll vote for the old Mayor because Sadiq Khan is so far ahead in the polls he's effectively unstoppable. But we do know the 12 people who won't replace him, most of whom are destined to lose their £10,000 deposit, and we also know many of their policies. Here's my clickable summary.

The mainstream three

Susan Hall (Conservative Party): Susan entered London politics in 2006 as a councillor for Hatch End and rose to become Leader of Harrow council, at least for a few months. Since 2019 she's been the leader of the Conservatives on the London Assembly so she's well used to holding Sadiq to account across the chamber and is very much not a fan. She's on the right of her party so not a natural fit for the capital, more a champion for the outer suburbs. Top of her five point plan is to 'get a grip on crime', indeed her strapline is Safer with Susan. That means hiring more police officers, opening more safe spaces for women and bringing back borough-based policing. Her other key policy is to scrap the ULEZ extension (which a minority of drivers in Outer London are incandescent about) but not to scrap the entire zone (so Inner London diesel owners would remain shafted). When she says she wants to "cut the cost of travelling around London" she only means motorists, not those on public transport, and she's insistent Sadiq intends to bring in road pricing even though he's insistent he won't. She wants much cleaner air via alternative means and also more family homes rather than highrise flats. According to her website "my full manifesto will launch in early 2024" but here we are with a fortnight to go and a five point plan is all we have.

Rob Blackie (Liberal Democrats): Rob's a digital marketeer from Herne Hill who recently turned 50 and is a long-term Liberal Democrat. His absolute number 1 priority is to tackle crime, specifically to 'Fix the Met' by improving conviction rates and bringing policing closer to the community. Rob was violently mugged in Vauxhall and says this is at the heart of his drive to focus on crime, although the attack actually took place in 2003 during Ken Livingstone's first term. On transport he wants a better plan for Outer London, greener river crossings out east, a tax on private planes, more Superloop routes and a reversal of the recent fares freeze. A lot of his pledges are more about lobbying and cajoling rather than action, perhaps recognising the limitations of the Mayoralty, but he does plan to increase the availability of allotments and introduce a London Wellbeing Strategy.

Zoë Garbett (Green Party): Zoë works (non-clinically) in the NHS and has been a Green councillor in Dalston since 2022. She's now stepping up for the mayoralty and if past performance is anything to go by has a good chance of coming 3rd. Her manifesto stretches to an astonishing 134 pages - ten times longer than Rob's - and I've already brought you an analysis of her 100-odd transport policies. Elsewhere climate change would be at the heart of her plans, including setting up a Citizens’ Climate Assembly and creating ten major new parks. On housing she'd like to buy up private homes to boost council house supply, and on policing she'd withdraw support for use of live facial recognition and focus on reducing hit and run crime. A Green Mayor would also replace the GLA’s annual firework displays with drones and lasers, so watch BBC1 on New Year's Day 2028 to see if that's been achieved.

The one-track idealist

Femy Amin (Animal Welfare Party): Femy wants "a fairer and compassionate world" not only for people but for animals and the environment too, including making a stand against the climate, biodiversity and health emergencies. Her policies include the creation of an Animal Welfare Committee within the London Assembly, the promotion of plant-based diets and of course "fostering a culture where speciesism is rejected". Vanessa Hudson said much the same thing three years ago and earned ½% of the vote.

The classic eccentric

Count Binface: Hurrah for intergalactic space warrior Count Binface.

The egotistical entrepreneurs

Natalie Campbell (Independent): Natalie threw her hat into the ring to be Conservative candidate for Mayor last year but wasn't successful so she's throwing her hat in as in independent instead. She's a former royal aide, the current Co-CEO of bottled water floggers Belu and wants to take "a zero B.S. approach to rebuilding London". She calls herself a social entrepreneur and wants an ambitious freelance buzz back on the streets of the capital, for example by repurposing 320 empty shops as community support centres.

Tarun Ghulati (Independent): Tarun's a 63 year-old investment banker and currently the president and CEO of financial services platform Squared Watermelon. He launched his campaign while on a visit to India and says London shouldn't be governed on party lines, it needs a better investment ecosystem. He doesn't have a manifesto he has a vision statement, he claims "Londoners do not feel safe anywhere, anytime, anymore" and like every single candidate on the remainder of my list he wants to scrap ULEZ.

Andreas Michli (Independent): Andreas is a health and fitness entrepreneur who runs a bodybuilding gym and is still peeved at being fined for holding a lockdown gathering at his home. Unsurprisingly his campaign slogan is Make London Strong and his top priorities are tackling knife crime and making police officers fitter. In other policies he wants platform doors at every tube station, a ban on the advertising of hyper-processed “plant-based” meat alternatives and, most bigheadedly, to "establish a Mayor of London radio channel through which I will speak directly to the people of London on a regular basis". I spotted his yellow van circling Piccadilly Circus the other day and thought blimey, there's an ego on the move.

The anti-woke warriors

Howard Cox (Reform UK): Howard's an ex-Conservative voter who's long campaigned on behalf of motorists, bikers, van drivers, cabbies and truckers. He wants to Get London Moving and can distil his campaign into a six word soundbite - Scrap ULEZ, Cut crime, Ditch Khan. He wants police to be a lot more visible and an end to cash-grabbing anti-driver policies, indeed he says he'll refund every fine imposed since ULEZ was extended. His long term priority is move to "a popular common-sense prosperity that benefits all not just a vocal selfish minority", whatever that means, although the finer detail in his policies is very thin.

Amy Gallagher (Social Democratic Party): Don't think Shirley Williams, think a psychiatric nurse concerned about identity politics and virtue signalling whose manifesto headline is Stand Up To Woke. Allow me to cut and paste a bit. "All Woke and DEI programmes will be stopped." "No more LGBTQ+ rainbow flags, BLM groups, ‘Maaate’ propaganda films." "End the war on cars resulting from authoritarian anti-travel ESG policies and Net Zero measures." "An outright ban on loudspeakers with full enforcement on public transport and in stations." "The SDP will de-politicise and enforce neutrality throughout TfL." "The Tube must run through the night, every night, to ensure women are able to work, commute and enjoy the city on a 24-hour basis without fearing for their safety." "The SDP know what a woman is." If the fourth plinth statues also make you angry, Amy wants your vote.

Brian Rose (London Real Party): Besuited businessman Brian got 1% of the vote last time but since then has seen "the city I love, the place I call home descend into an Orwellian nightmare". I probably can't dig a bigger hole for him than to reproduce his opening paragraph. "The Brian For Mayor 2024 campaign aims to create a mass scale transformation in humanity into a fully empowered, conscious and cooperative species by promoting great ideas, strong policies and long term outcomes, while defending our rights to free speech and making London the financial capital of the world once more by making our capital the centre of the crypto, web3 and blockchain industries."

Nick Scanlon (Britain First): Immigrants and Islamists are the important issue in Nick's patriotic bubble, on behalf of a party that considers Reform a bunch of wishy-washy liberals. I don't recognise the London he claims to be "a Third World cesspit where crime is rampant and radical Islamist extremists dominate the streets!" but thousands will cast their vote here anyway.

Don't take my word for all this, do your own research, perhaps by clicking through or by reading the booklet being sent to every voter. You can download a full copy of that booklet here in case yours hasn't arrived yet. Dave Hill is also doing sterling work analysing the candidates and their policies over at On London.

And one final observation. Thus far the candidate with the sketchiest policies isn't any of the above, it's the incumbent Sadiq Khan, whose campaign materials all focus on what he's done (free school meals, frozen fares, building council houses etc) rather than plans for the future. That's because he's delayed publication of his manifesto until this morning, a fortnight before the polls open, and given he's going to win that's the body of pledges we should really all be focusing on.

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