Friday, 23 July 2010

Keir On London

Though of Celtic stock, Keir has a close attachment to London. So Boris Johnson's reign as Mayor of the capital has been troubling. Sure, Boris has done a few good things. Not completely following the party line is in some ways admirable, and championing the Living Wage campaign led by London Citizens is also something to be commended. However, he is in more than equal part dangerous.

Plus, Brand Boris is fading. He is a character, but to hold such an important role requires more than character. The way he has often passed "achievements" off as his own is pretty annoying. As is the way he deflects serious questions about important issues with humourous quips and ancient phrases that few below social class B would care about understanding. His threat to the cost of travel in London is also worrying. He is a freak of a politician in many ways; a hark back to the old days when charisma could sometimes be much more important than policies. (People will say that is actually more prevalent these days by citing Blair and Obama as politicians who won on charisma...Keir says these people should take a look at Blobama's often revolutionary policies before talking such nonsense.) Labour's election performance in London (38 seats to the 28 Tory seats) suggests that there can definitely be a Labour recovery of City Hall. However, Ken Livingstone's time has been and gone. As a colleague recently pointed out on Twitter, it's over.

Step forward, Oona King.

Politics is in the process of being freshened up with David Miliband's community organising training re-building the Labour movement, new members joining the party in their 1000's and a fresh-faced bunch of new politicians like Chuka Umunna and Stella Creasy, Rachel Reeves and Gloria de Piero. London needs to follow suit. No more Tory policy speak. No more champagne receptions. No more banker love-ins. Boris has to go. His defence of the bankers in the City was vomit-inducing. "...the City of London produces 9% of UK GDP" was his main defence. Well, I don't know about you, but I'd rather that decrease by, say, 2% and not have to go through the painful effects of its cyclic crash every now and then.

Oona would bring a fresh approach to politics. She's also a proven hard campaigner. She would support the grassroots movement that helped Labour fight off a Tory majority. Her tireless efforts fighting an anti-war ticket candidate in a difficult seat in 2005 should not be forgotten by anyone; especially as the man who beat her turned out to be the mug we all knew he would be.

Her policies make sense and will resonate with Londoners. Her plan to tackle knife crime and the fear of knife crime with a combination of increasing provision, services and activities for young people whilst clamping down hard on the crimes, is well thought-out. Her housing policy to secure more social housing from new developments is something that London desperately needs.

And let's not beat around the proverbial bush: what a great advert for London and for Britain. One of the great capitals of the world led by a young, charismatic, mixed race female.

Ken talks old school, Boris talks Confucius, Oona talks London.


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