I have lived in London for almost 35 years, in Blackheath, Streatham, Battersea, Ladbroke Grove and the East End. Three of my four children were born in London and all four grew up in London. My first child is now a mother of four all born in London; I myself regard London as my home and think it’s the greatest city in the world.
I was a London Member of Parliament for five years in Bethnal Green and Bow and in 2004 I stood for the European Parliament in London when Respect was just twenty weeks old and achieved almost 100,000 votes. I have been elected to the British parliament six times and served there for the best part of thirty years and want to bring the political experience of four decades to bear in fighting for you and London.
Though London is a great city, Life is not great for all Londoners. It is run by and for the Metropolitan elite. The elite do very well whilst the majority struggle with the high cost of living, shortage of affordable housing, cramped and expensive transport and savage cuts in our public services. It is time for a London for all.
I will fight for your interests wherever you came from, whatever colour you are, however you pray. We are against all Racism, Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and for unity amongst all Londoners irrespective of age, gender or orientation.
Financial services are an important part of London’s economy. The City and other corporate interests in London will have to do much more, in the exercise of their social responsibilities to Londoners who live and work around them and who provide the whole environment in which their businesses are thriving. But with great wealth comes great responsibilities.
As Mayor I will campaign relentlessly for the London Living Wage and for a higher London minimum wage to take account of the higher cost of living in the capital. Neither can we allow the continuing social cleansing of poor and ordinary working people from London. Virtually no social housing is built while London property has become a safety deposit box for rich, sometimes dubious players, to lock up their assets far from their own country.
1. Free transport pass for students and key workers.
2. Banning heavy vehicles during daylight hours from Central London to save lives, limbs and lungs.
3. A huge increase in affordable houses built and a halt to London property being used as a safety deposit boxes by rich, often crooked, foreign buyers.
4. Demanding London control over the NHS to stop further cuts and privatisation.
5. A strong and well-funded police force that 'looks like London'. no more institutionalised racism or class distinction. I hope you will support my campaign and give me your vote.
Under this government and Boris Johnson’s Tory Mayoralty, ordinary Londoners are being priced out of their city like never before, by skyrocketing house prices and rents. The average house in London costs almost £500,000, and the average rent is £1,600, with no sign of this spiral abating as wages remain stagnant.
The working people who keep London running, are forced to pay an ever greater proportion of their income in rent, to live in inadequate living spaces, or to move out of the capital altogether. Even worse, in the case of housing estates such as Sweets Way in Barnet, whole communities are torn apart by forced “relocations”, with household moved across the city or away from it altogether, away from their neighbours, friends, family and workplaces.
At the same time, whole streets in the wealthiest areas of the city lie empty, as speculators from around the globe buy up land and housing as an “investment”: i.e. a means to conserve the value of their money, speculating on an ever increasing house price bubble, and on “soft touch” British governments not daring to tax their wealth, or take back idle properties.
Not only does this mean that the money which we are told “flows into” our economy from non-resident investors, has little positive impact on the economy, as it is swallowed up in speculation and rent-seeking. It means in fact, that the impact becomes negative, as prices of scarce land and housing are inflated beyond the wildest dreams of ordinary working people.
Mayor Boris Johnson has done nothing to enforce the policy, introduced by Ken Livingstone, that 50% of housing on all new projects must be dedicated to “affordable” housing. For example, the development currently under completion on the site of the old Battersea Power station, has offered only 8% of properties over to “affordable” housing. And where this has policy has been more or less followed, such as the Beaufort Park development in Collindale, Barnet, this has been demanded by the local council, not City Hall.
Likewise, the definition of “affordable” housing shows how out of touch our political elite is, with the limit being set at 80% of average rent in a given area, which in much of London puts this out of reach for middle class professionals, never mind working class Londoners!
This situation is not just immoral, a transfer of wealth from the poorest to the richest, but a drain on our economy: the more people's income is taken up by rent (or transport for those forced out of the city), the less can be spent on businesses which actually produce goods and services to sell here. A recent CBI and KPMG study concluded that 14% of London businesses view the cost of housing as London’s biggest weakness as a location for their business.
The decision is clear: either we take action to benefit working people, consumers, and productive businesses, or we allow London to continue to be a casino for speculators, buying up scarce land and housing and pricing everyone else out of the market.
Therefore, if you elect me Mayor of London, I pledge the following:
• I will ensure any housing project submitted for my approval, must be comprised of 50% affordable housing.
• I will define affordable housing as 50% of average rents, not 80% as is currently the case.
• I will fight to introduce legislation to take back idle properties and developments, which are not lived in, rented, or used for business purposes by the owner.
• I will introduce a land tax on empty properties, compound, which year on year will make it simply uneconomic for speculators to leave properties empty.
If necessary, I will compulsorily purchase any property left vacant for more than one year without a valid excuse. I will seek to introduce Berlin style rent-controls and secure tenancies for London’s tenants. If it is good enough for the capital of Germany it is good enough for us. I will be a voice on the national stage to bring this issue to the centre of our political debate, seeking allies in all parties and all parts of the country to crack down on the speculators, and make sure our national priority becomes providing affordable and decent housing for all.
London’s transport system is a symbol of this great city – the Tube, the red buses, the black cabs – but too often feels the strain of a growing capital.
Boris Johnson has displayed Tory contempt towards the Tube’s workforce throughout his entire spell as Mayor of London, refusing to meet union leaders to discuss proposals to close ticket offices and bring in 24-hour tube services. Now I’m in favour of an all-night tube service in a 24-hour capital like London. But I’ll be making sure workers are properly consulted on the process, are properly recompensed and are not forced into working long, unsociable and potentially dangerous hours.
London’s transport system is the most expensive in the world. I understand the difficulties faced in upgrading an antiquated network, but transport is what keeps London moving and we need a network that’s fit for a 21st century capital like London.
I’m in favour of retaining the Congestion Charge. London is already too polluted and too congested. We don’t want to encourage more cars onto the roads when we can encourage other forms of transport.
Additionally, I am proposing to ban trucks and heavy vehicles from entering into Central London during daytime hours in a bid to reduce fuel emissions, cut congestion and save lives limbs and lungs.
I want to invest in cycling initiatives that make it safer to cycle around London. Far too many people are losing their lives this way. We need to be encouraging more people to leave their cars and travel on two wheels. But we have to do so in a way which doesn't produce gridlock and without the pollution damage congestion causes.
I’m in favour of expanding London’s airport capacity. London needs to be able to manage the needs of business and ensure business comes to London instead of going elsewhere. But I’m against a third runway at Heathrow when Gatwick offers a better alternative. Pollution levels are already too high at Heathrow without a third runway, and adding a second runway at Gatwick would cause far less disruption than adding a third at Heathrow. I believe London can still thrive with two separate airport hubs.
I support the moves to renationalise the rail network which brings millions into our city to work every day. Commuters are faced with astronomical fares which keep outstripping inflation. It’s time to return the network back into public ownership. After all, we’ve already paid for it.
Uber represents everything that is wrong with the zero-hour, tax-dodging, deregulated economy promoted by our political elite. The company has been defended by Tory Mayor Boris Johnson, who has condemned its opponents as “luddites”. In contrast, if you elect me as your Mayor, I will lead the crack down on Uber, and protect the interests and safety of London’s travelling public, taxi drivers and small mini-cab firms.
What is it?
Uber functions as an app which drivers can register with, allowing customers to view and “hail” them electronically. It argues that this is a “market place” which brings together consumers and suppliers quickly and affordably, and therefore should not be taxed on its revenues or forced to recognise its drivers as employees.
So what’s the problem? In fact, a better question would be, where to start?...
Uber’s drivers are not classed as “employees” but as users of the app, who in return for being listed, pay a percentage of each fare to the company. This means they have no employment rights, such as the minimum wage, collective bargaining, severance pay, annual leave, or maximum or minimum working hours.
These practices are typical of the “low wage economy” championed by the Tory government, and its cheerleaders or collaborators on the Labour right. The most immediate victims are Uber’s own drivers, who are forced to work long hours with no rights, while the company takes the lions share of profits - an inevitable results when you have a huge multinational and an unorganised, casual workforce. Black cab drivers - who pay hundreds of millions in tax - and mini cab drivers in the private hire sector are big losers too. The public who must breath the polluted air produced by an exponential rise in the number of vehicles plying for hire are the biggest losers of all.
However, in the long-run, all working and middle class people will suffer the consequences. London’s taxi and minicab drivers will be increasingly forced to lower their own pay and conditions in order to compete. As this “race to the bottom” is replicated across the economy, we all become worse off. Uber is just one very high-profile example, and this is why it is so important for the Mayor of London to take a stand. Mayor Boris Johnson didn't take a stand he took a dive. The Tories are in bed with Uber, plain and simple.
Tax and Competition
Uber is practicing “tax avoidance on an industrial scale”, according to the London Private Hire Car Association (LPHCA). The San Francisco based multinational processes its UK operations through Uber BV, a subsidiary registered in the Netherlands, allowing it to avoid UK Corporation Tax on its revenues. The company also uses this as an excuse to not charge VAT, taking advantage of Dutch legislation.
The result of this is that, in a time of austerity, Britain is shamefully allowing Uber to “opt out” of tax on its profits and revenues. At the same time, the company has an unfair cost advantage over UK registered mini-cab and car-hire firms, and taxi drivers, who do pay their fair share of tax.
Consumer Rights and Safety
Uber has been criticised for its lack of appropriate checks on drivers, which is made easier by the fact it presents itself as a “marketplace” simply connecting buyers and sellers of a service. This is in contrast to conventional mini-cab firms or taxi drivers, who have to register all their operations in the local areas where they operate, and are subject to strictly enforced quality and safety standards by TfL and local authorities.
As a result, there are many reported cases of dangerous driving and overcharging on agreed fares, with no telephone number listed on the company’s UK and Ireland website. Even worse, many cases of violence or sexual assault have been reported around the world, and serious doubts raised about the safety of passengers placing their trust in the app.
Uber also practices “surging”, which means that the app uses algorithms to detect when there are less drivers on the road, and raise fares accordingly. Imagine the outcry if London’s cabbies would get together and agree such a practice! Perhaps this is an indication of what we can expect if Uber ever “corners the market” as it intends to.
What can be done?
Countries such as Australia have already taken measures, such as ordering Uber to pay Goods and Services Tax (its equivalent of VAT) on revenue in that country. The French and Canadian governments are also looking into similar measures, after protests from taxi drivers in those countries. Transport for London has belatedly followed suit, after a long and hard-fought campaign from the London Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) and the London Private Car Hire Association (LPCHA), but so far we have seen no results - hardly surprising giving Boris Johnson’s instinctive Tory support for tight-fisted corporations.
In contrast, as Mayor I will work together with taxi drivers, minicab firms, private car-hire firms, and consumer’s groups, to:
• Do everything within my power to ban Uber from London: Transport for London has already looked at enforced waiting time and banning the listing of available cars for hire on a mobile application, and I will pursue this more vigorously, as well as all other available channels.
• If this is not possible, I will force Uber to comply with the same quality, customer care, employment and safety standards as all other minicab firms operating in London. This great city must offer the highest standards of quality and safety to all, including tourists, and we cannot build that on deregulation, cutting corners and precarious working conditions.
• Be a leading voice on a national level demanding our Government and local authorities, take this problem seriously. We should not only follow Australia’s example of forcing Uber to pay VAT, but take the international lead in ensuring Uber to pays its fair share of corporation tax.
Policing in London needs a complete overhaul. We cannot continue to have a two-tier system in our capital. If you pick someone’s pocket in Liverpool Street station, you can be pretty sure that the police will be onto you like a flash. Yet our law enforcement has turned a blind eye to gigantic crimes involving the theft of millions of pounds in the same square mile.
There are many fantastic police officers out there. I should know, having needed them on many occasions. But the Met Police isn’t working for everyone in London. Too many people don’t feel able to trust our police force. There undoubtedly are deep problems of racism and discrimination in parts of the police. We need a force that will treat everyone in London equally, whether they have a black face or a white collar.
London’s police also needs to look like the city that it’s protecting. The number of Black and Ethnic Minority officers is still unacceptably low, and falling. I’ll be making sure that London’s police starts to look a lot more like London itself.
• I will seek to merge the existing forces of the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police.
• A substantial increase in the recruitment of BME police officers.
• A zero-tolerance attitude to racism within London’s police force.
• An end to the scandals in the practices of stop and search which has marginalised many in our minority communities.
• Greater powers for the police in dealing with hate crime.
• Greater spending to ensure the protection of places of worship such as mosques, synagogues and churches.
• In this time of emergency, I will stand fully behind London's police against the threat of Terrorism.
We need more police not fewer as the Tories planned. We need more armed police who need to be the best trained in the world - we can't have any more "shoot to kill" scandals - and we need innovative ways to involve the public in our civil defence, which the Mayor is in charge of but on which he does nothing. We need more police, more training for the police, more resources for the police and we need smarter intelligence fed to the police. I will be a hands-on Mayor when it comes to fighting terrorism. All of my experience over forty years will be dedicated to this task.
The use of the Oyster Card will be massively expanded. It will become an interest free debit card used in shops and restaurants, and for other services, and for the transfer of money abroad, either in family remittances or just mums getting emergency money to their kids abroad. In that sense, and others, City Hall will become a publicly owned “People’s Bank”.
The £18bn annual City Hall budget will be online in real time, absolutely transparent. Every expenditure, by every department and official, including the Mayor will be visible to the public and able to be criticised instantly. To achieve this, we will use the BlockChain technology developed by London’s red hot FinTech industry, currently based in the Shoreditch Corridor
London is unique within the UK in terms of both its contribution and requirements. I will therefore campaign to have a "London NHS", with its own budget run directly by City Hall. This will allow me as Mayor to ensure Londoners have access to a healthcare service suited to the unique pressures and challenges faced by a 21st century global city.
The fire brigade is an essential part of London's public services and has suffered terribly under severe cuts and closures from Tory austerity. As Mayor of London I promise to immediately end all fire station closures and cuts to London fire services. I also pledge to reverse the cuts already made to this life-saving and vital public service. I'll further endeavour to use my close working relationship with the London Fire Brigades Union to ensure that Londoners get the world class fire service they deserve.