Adil Sait reviews the line-up for this year’s London Mayoral Elections
As Boris Johnson MP, steps down as Mayor of London in 2016, the race to succeed him is already well underway. Six candidates have declared that they are standing for election. With the Conservatives winning the 2015 General Election, but Labour taking the majority of London seats, and UKIP, the Lib-Dems, and the Greens also contesting the election, along with former MP George Galloway, the election will be a crucial event for London, indicating where support really lies – especially between the Labour leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and the current Conservative government.
1. Zac Goldsmith, Conservative Party:
Goldsmith was elected as MP for Richmond Park in 2010, and is a member of the Environmental Audit Select Committee. Known as a ‘Eurosceptic’ and one of the wealthiest MP’s in parliament, he won the nomination of the Conservatives to succeed Boris Johnson. He has supported government legislation on welfare reform, taxation, and constitutional reform.
As a passionate environmentalist he voted for the maintenance of London’s Green belt, against Badger culling, and for subsidising low-carbon emission electricity generation. He opposes registration of lobbyists and restrictions on campaigning by third party organisations, which has been part of the government’s agenda.
2. Sadiq Khan, Labour Party:
Khan was elected as the MP for Tooting in the 2005 General Election. He was a member of the public accounts committee (2005-7), personal private secretary to the Leader of the House of Commons (2007-8), the parliamentary under-secretary of state for communities and local government (2008-9) and was minster of state for transport (2009-10) and has held a variety of shadow ministerial briefs including transport, Justice, Lord Chancellor and London. He has most notably voted against the £9,000 student tuition fees, for raising welfare benefits in line with current prices, and for making the House of Lords an elected chamber.
He was also one of the MPs to nominate Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader, after the resignation of Ed Miliband in May 2015.
3. Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrats:
Pidgeon was formerly a councillor in Southwark (1998 – 2010), and was a cabinet minister for children and young people. Since 2008 she has been a member of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, and is currently its leader. Among the issues she has announced as key to her bid to become Mayor of London are affordable childcare and affordable housing through schemes such as rent-to-buy, transport management, and stronger policing. She has also defended the coalition government between 2010 and 2015, and Lib-Dem’s record in office under the leadership of Nick Clegg.
4. Peter Whittle, UKIP:
Whittle was UKIP’s culture spokesman since 2013, before standing down to become their candidate for the Mayor of London. A strong supporter of Nigel Farage, he beat Suzanne Evans, UKIP’s deputy chair, to become the party’s nominee. He was also the founder of the ‘New Culture Forum’ think-tank in 2006, opposes the expansion of Heathrow airport, and supports the UK leaving the European Union. He has argued that the financial services industries are in support of these measures with him. Whittle also stood at the 2015 General election, as candidate for Eltham, although he was not elected, coming third to the Labour and Conservative candidates.
5. Sian Berry, Green Party:
Berry was elected as councillor for the Highgate ward of Camden County Council in 2014, and has been a member of the Green Party since 2002. She ran for Mayor in 2008, as the Green Party’s candidate and came fourth behind the Conservative, Labour and Lib-Dem candidates.
Among other issues Berry has campaigned against genetically modified food, the Iraq War, and Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the UK in 2008, as well as for more sustainable transport in London. Berry is one of the Green Party’s principle speakers.
6. George Galloway, Respect Party:
Galloway was the Labour MP for Glasgow Hillhead between 1981 and 1997, and for the redistributed constituency Glasgow Kelvin from 1997-2005. He was ejected from the Labour Party over vocal opposition to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and became a part of ‘the Unity Coalition’, also known as Respect. In 2005 he was elected MP for Bow and Bethnal Green. Despite losing his seat in the 2010 General Election he won the seat of the Bradford West constituency in a by-election in 2012, before losing again in the 2015 General election.
He has announced that policing will be the number one issue of his campaign for Mayor of London, although he is best known for his stances on foreign policy.
Also, in 2006, Galloway appeared on the fourth season of Celebrity Big Brother where he rather memorably pretended to be a cat and licked cream out of a fellow contestants hands, before eventually coming eighth. As there are only six candidates so far in the running for Mayor, he is already guaranteed to rank at least two places higher.
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