Tag Archives: Ken Livingstone

London’s women are less safe under Tory Mayor Boris Johnson

London is a fantastic city. I am proud to live here and I am proud to be one of the youngest Labour candidates for the London Assembly. There are many opportunities afforded to young people in London. Yet like all cities, there are dangers to be wary of. My worry, like that of many young Londoners, is that just as the opportunities are shrinking due to the lack of growth and jobs under this government, the dangers are increasing. And no one is feeling that shift more than London’s young women.

I think almost every young woman in London knows the feeling of unwanted attention on a night out. However, it’s one thing to feel intimidated by the a group of men who are making suggestive remarks on a busy bar-lined street, it is a different type of intimidation to be walking alone to a bus stop with the same group of men walking behind you.

Few will appreciate more keenly the cut in police numbers than those young women who rely on them to keep the crowds in order and to be patrolling the streets all through the night. The Mayor’s cuts to police numbers, of course, leave all Londoners at a greater risk of crime, a fact that is particularly worrying as we head into the Olympics. But as it is, London’s women find themselves in danger every night.

Poor street lighting, less staff manning tube stations, and increased parking charges in central London have resulted in a perfect storm forcing women onto public transport at night with fewer police officers around to protect them. And with wage freezes, VAT increases and fare rises, fewer will have the disposable cash now for that lifeline on a night out – the taxi home.

But we must not fall into a trap of dividing London between the raucous centre and leafy suburbs. The argument that we should beef up police numbers in zone 1 at the expense of police in outer boroughs has no weight given the widespread and terrifying rioting we saw last year across the capital. Boroughs like Ealing are just as exposed to the rise in crime. In the last two years Ealing has lost 26 police officers. 2,245 total theft offences were reported, an increase of 15%. Shockingly in the past year sexual offences increased by 16% in Ealing. The crimes young women worry about most – rape, assaults and muggings – are crimes of opportunity. We must not present those opportunities to criminals and it should be the Mayor’s first priority to ensure that we have more police on the streets especially as the Justice Secretary has admitted he anticipates a rise in opportunistic crime as a direct result of government policy.

I don’t think Boris Johnson has consciously put London’s young women in danger. I just don’t think he has ever stood in the cold at 3am, waiting for the bus home after five buses have gone past that are ‘Not in Service’, with a group of leering drunk men.

Ken Livingstone will reverse Boris Johnson’s police cuts. London’s young women deserve a Mayor who will make their safety his priority.

Mabel McKeown, CLP chair and candidate for London Assembly

It’s a Mayoral Election not a Beauty Contest

As Labour’s GLA candidate for the West Central constituency (which includes Hammersmith and Fulham, Westminster and my home borough of K&C), I am keen to run a campaign that focuses on issues that matter to the people of West Central. Between now and May’s election, I will be listening to the residents of West Central to find out about their priorities. I will also be promoting the issues high on my list, such as freezing public transport fares, promoting construction of more social and affordable housing in West Central, fighting Tory cuts to the number of police on our streets and promoting the London Living Wage.
Election outcomes matter. The choice that we make next year as Londoners will have a huge impact on public services in our city, and on the success of the Tory-led government in radically reducing the role of government. With Ken Livingstone, we can protect our public services and the number of police on our streets, freeze transport fares and promote the construction of more social and affordable housing. With Boris Johnson, we can protect the interests of the rich, cut public services and the number of police on our streets, pay higher transport fares and continue to see social housing in West Central disappear.
Like many thousands of Londoners, I’m an immigrant (I grew up in the United States). The last presidential election that took place while I was resident in the United States was the Bush-Gore contest of 2000. Though it seems hard to imagine now, many people said in 2000 that it didn’t matter whether Bush or Gore won because there was “no difference” between the two. Some people said that they were going to vote for Bush because he would be “more fun to have a beer with” than Gore. I think that history has proven that George Bush turned out to be a very different sort of President than Al Gore would have been. Bush’s disastrous administration demonstrates that the decisions that elected leaders make can have a profound impact on our lives. Likewise, many people are finding out that there is a great deal of difference between the Conservative and Labour administrations. If you want to find out whether elections outcomes matter, ask the students who have lost the support of Education Maintenance Allowances and are facing impossible university tuition; people who depend upon public services that are being cut; and people who are struggling to pay higher public transport fares.
And I’ve got news for anyone who plans on voting for Boris because they think he is the more likeable candidate: the chances of your ever spending time with Boris Johnson in a social setting are very small. If you think he is a fun guy, then maybe you should invite him to your next barbecue, but that doesn’t mean that he is the better choice for Mayor of London. Frankly, I find Boris’s Bullingdon Club background repulsive and I doubt I would have much in common with him one on one, but that is beside the point. I’m voting for Ken Livingstone because he has the policies, as well as the experience, that London needs in troubled times.
Todd Foreman is a Councillor for Notting Barns Ward in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and Labour’s candidate for the West Central GLA constituency in 2012.

The Tories’ radical housing policy experiment

Val Shawcross, Stephen Cowan (Leader of the Opposition, London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham), Ken Livingstone and Todd Foreman (Labour GLA Candidate for West Central) visit Hammersmith riverfront, where the the Tory Council is planning a luxury housing development (but no affordable housing) as part of a wider effort to change the demographics of the Borough.

As Labour’s candidate for West Central, I am standing in an area which is undergoing a radical experiment that is turning swathes of London into no-go zones for ordinary working people. West Central is made up of Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Hammersmith and Fulham, which have the 1st, 2nd and 5th highest mean average private rents, respectively, in England. Affordable housing is in desperately short supply, and housing tops the concerns of residents at my advice surgeries.

This week the Conservatives announced their latest housing policy; this will do nothing to help the worsening crisis in West Central. Thousands of residents have recently received letters telling them that due to new caps, their housing benefit will be cut drastically. For some this will mean a rapid spiral into debt; for most, this will mean that they will be forced to leave their homes and move to distant areas where they can find rental properties within the new benefit caps. Children will be uprooted from schools; workers will face impossible and expensive commutes to jobs; and families will be forced to move far away from friends, loved ones and communities. In short, we are about to see a massive social experiment that is part of a deliberate strategy by the Tories to turn West Central into an area that is only affordable for the wealthy.

And it’s not as if the local Tory councils are helping matters, either. Take Hammersmith and Fulham, which suffers under one of the most vicious Councils in the country, and where the Tories are in a race against time to change the character of the Borough before Council elections in 2014. Their strategy is Dame Shirley Porter 2.0. Housing owned by the Council is being sold off and legal loopholes are found to maximise profits at the expense of providing affordable homes. Stable communities such as the Hammersmith’s Queen Caroline Estate are labelled “not decent” by the Council and slated for demolition to make way for unaffordable private housing, without a guarantee to local residents that after ‘temporary’ decanting they will ever be able to return to the area.
Tory policies are increasing homelessness; in Kensington and Chelsea, statutory homelessness is up an eye-watering 41% from 2009-10 to 2010-11.

The consequences for West Central are terrible. Young people have little hope of staying in the area as they reach adulthood, and the socio-economic diversity is being squeezed from our communities.

The free market will never provide a solution to West Central’s lack of affordable housing, especially when government is actively making matters worse. We need a Labour GLA and Mayor who will prioritise affordable housing and use their planning powers to promote truly affordable housing developments and restore the affordable housing targets which Boris Johnson scrapped. And London’s regional government must lobby central government to encourage Councils to build more affordable housing for social rent. The scale of the challenge is immense, and it is critical that we elect a Labour Mayor and Labour GLA in 2012 so that we can begin to tackle London’s housing crisis.

Todd Foreman is Labour’s GLA Candidate for West Central and Councillor for Notting Barns ward in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.