Principled politicians are often hard to come by. Luckily for the nation’s capitol city however, they have been blessed with a remarkable principled mayor for eight years in Boris Johnson, and have the opportunity to choose another principled man to be mayor, Zac Goldsmith.
Zac Goldsmith is someone who does not share all of my personal views. I find his environmental beliefs to be a bit extreme, to say the least. But I could think of few other people, minus perhaps the current mayor (who in my opinion should be the next Prime Minister) who could do a better job for London. First of all, Zac backs Brexit- in a city where Brexit is not particularly popular. He backs it so much that he previously was part of his father’s Referendum Party (along with Priti Patel) in the 1990s. But more importantly, Zac believes in continuing to let London to thrive by getting government out of the way. From his manifesto he states: “I am naturally sceptical of big government, believing that 9 time out of 10, the business community will do a better job than the civil servant ever could. That’s why I have always voted in favour of lower corporation tax; and in favour of sensible deregulation. I believe firmly that it is the job of the government to set the rules of the game and then let business to get on and deliver it.” Goldsmith has pledged to not raise council tax, to cut red tape, and to push for business-friendly environment for start-ups. To me, all three are a good thing. He also plans to back Boris’s plans to increase infrastructure, back the plan to make sure the night tube is finally rolled out and to make sure crime continues to decline.
Khan on the other hand is a wild card, a true “leap in the dark.” He is a slippery eel who does not deserve to be mayor of the world’s most important city. Khan has not promised to rule out raising council tax. Khan has promised to freeze rail fares which would put infrastructure projects at risk – a risk the Tory government have pledged to not cover. Boris’ fiscal discipline will likely be out the window in a Khan mayoralty. But what strikes me about Khan is he is the opposite of Boris and Zac, he is a largely unprincipled politician.
Examples of Khan flip-flopping are as numerous as the nation’s largest metropolis’ populations. Khan claims to be against extremists, and he likely is, having voted for gay marriage and opposing the hijab, but he hasn’t always been so forthright. As recently as 2009, Khan called moderate Muslims “Uncle Toms” and he has shared platforms with some unsavoury hate preachers. Other examples include his behaviour more recently. Khan voted to put the extremist Jeremy Corbyn on the ballot for Labour leadership, and then turns around and votes against him in the leadership vote. And it’s not just association with Corbyn which is concerning. After Ken Livingstone’s most recent antisemitic outburst Khan rightly condemned him, yet Khan was happy to support that same Livingstone on his failed 2008 and 2012 bids despite Livingstone’s 2005 comments which got him suspended as mayor. I truly question Khan’s character and I truly wonder whether Khan will let back into City Hall some of Ken Livingtone’s creepy cronies from his mayoralty or even the GLC days.
Under Boris’s remarkable leadership London has been a rip-roaring success. Even the left-leaning Independent acknowledged his success, giving him a grade of a 4 out of 5. While they credit him for “staying out of the way” of the economy (if only they would recommend national and EU politicians do the same…) and turning the Olympic Village into a successfully revitalised area, it is a fact that Boris was a tax cutter and his tax cutting help make London boom. Compare him with the London he inherited from Ken Livingstone, a London on the front of Time magazine as “London Sinking”: “Ken Livingstone’s levy on London council tax bills more than doubled under his administration, soaring from £123 on Band D in 2000-01 to £310 in 2008-09. Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, has cut the GLA precept from £310 in 2008-09 to £295 in 2015-16, a fall of five per cent in cash terms, and a cut of almost a quarter in real terms since 2008.” Zac too would continue Boris’s fiscally responsible City Hall management- for the betterment of Londoners.
Under Boris’s leadership London now has 25% more businesses than in 2008, it has the highest concentration of legal, underwritng, and banking talent than any city in the world, while a London tech startup sector is now booming. London is the most visited and googled city in the world, something it was not in 2008. Furthermore, London is the number one most sought after work destination in the world- as well as being its cultural and digital media capital as well. London is also the world’s entertainment hub, producing more film than New York or Los Angeles as Hollywood’s biggest studios leave from LA to film in London. Boris leaves office with a majority approval rating in a Labour leaning city, London’s crime is down and under Boris there were more homes built than under Livingstone. Why risk throwing this success away by trusting Labour to run City Hall again?
Zac is a pair of safe, steady, hands Londoners can trust. In his own constituency he is so popular that he flipped a Liberal Democrat constituency in 2010 and was returned in 2015 with a 23,000 vote majority– winning almost an almost 60% of the vote. London has seen what Boris what can do. Richmond Park has seen what Zac can do. Now, Londoners should put their trust in principled, Brexit-supporting, Zac Goldsmith for mayor.