Why I'm running for mayor of LondonFriday, May 07, 2021
My grandmother moved from Jamaica to London after the Second World War. Her grandson is now the Conservative candidate for mayor of London. So London truly is a city where all things are possible. But over the last five years it hasn't always felt that way. Let me go back a bit and explain.
I was born in a council house in a deprived part of London. I was raised by a single mum who worked hard to support her two sons. Growing up, life wasn't always easy. I was homeless for part of my twenties and struggled to make ends meet for a lot longer.
But, with the help of family and friends, I managed to support myself through university and become a youth worker. And that's when I got into my stride.
It was my job to help young Londoners get out of crime, turn their lives around, and fulfil their potential.
Youth work brought new challenges every day. I was threatened with machetes. I had to take knives from kids. I had to think creatively and find solutions to very difficult problems. But through it all, the talent and aspiration of those young Londoners motivated me. They wanted to get on in life. They wanted more for themselves. They just hadn't had the support they needed early on.
My life in politics began when a former prime minister asked me to join the Conservative Party. Truth be told, I had never really thought about politics before then. And while I turned down the offer at first, I found myself thinking more and more about the challenges Londoners face — and how so many of those challenges could be addressed by the mayor of London.
We saw how those challenges were addressed when Boris Johnson was mayor of London. He cut crime, built more affordable homes, invested in our transport network, and lowered the cost of living.
But without the right leadership it's too easy for old problems to bubble up. And that's exactly what we've seen over the last five years. Since Sadiq Khan became mayor in 2016 more and more Londoners have started to feel like their city isn't working for ordinary people. And it's not hard to see why: Knife crime has reached historic highs. Good homes are unaffordable. Our transport network is struggling to cope. And the cost of living keeps rising. These are the same problems I helped people deal with as a youth worker. The same problems that Sadiq Khan promised to do something about. But here we are, five years after his election, with nothing but broken promises to show for it.
I'm standing for mayor of London because this city needs a fresh start. As we emerge from lockdown we can't go back to the old normal. We need a safer, fairer, more affordable city. And that's the kind of city I intend to build.
As mayor, I'll recruit 8,000 more police to cut crime on our streets. I'll get first-time buyers on the housing ladder by building 100,000 homes that will be sold for £100,000 each. I'll set up a London Infrastructure Bank, bringing together public and private funds to invest in long-term transport projects. And I'll lower the cost of living on day one by reversing the Congestion Charge hike and cutting council tax.
These, of course, are just the first steps. But they are significant. Every single policy is fully costed, with detailed plans that are ready to go from the moment I'm elected. And these plans all come from the life experience I've had — as the grandchild of a Windrush immigrant, as the boy from a council house, and as a youth worker.
I know most readers will be based in Jamaica. But I know many Jamaican families have relatives and friends in London. So I ask readers to talk to their friends and family, and let them know that a Jamaican boy has done good and is standing for mayor.
Together, with the support of Jamaicans and residents from every community in London, I know we can give this city a fresh start. And that fresh start will soon begin.
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