The Next London Mayor - some thoughts
The Mayor of London is after the PM and the Chancellor the third most important
politician in the country.
Cast your mind back to the London mayoral elections in 2012. The two
protagonists BoJo and Uncle Ken spent most of their time arguing about their
children and various lovers or who had squirrelled away the most in various
limited companies. Neither offered a 20:20 vision of what London would look like
Be that as it may, the wolves are now gathering amongst the London political
packs for the mayoral nominations for 2016.
On the Tory side, it is likely that BoJo will announce he is standing for
Parliament next year on the opening day of the Conservative Party conference in
September. This is not what Tory HQ wants. They want him to declare before the
summer recess. It would be pitiful if after wining a safe seat in May, 2015 he
then stayed on as mayor. It would be better for London if the Tory party could
nominate Kit Malthouse or Victoria Borwick to hold the fort. It would also give
either of them the chance to put their case to be the candidate for 2016.
For Labour, everyone thinks Tessa Jowell is a shoe-in unless you happen to be
Lord Adonis, Sadiq Khan, Fiona Twycross or David Lammy - all putative candidates
- or me. But first there will have to be an internal primary or run off sometime
after the General Election as the winner will be announced at the Party
Conference in late September. If Labour wins the General Election, Adonis, Khan
and Lammy will have to weigh up whether they want to serve in government as
Secretaries of State or settle for running for mayor whereas Ms Jowell is
standing down at the next election. Bet on Khan who is close to Ed Miliband.
There will be Green, UKIP, Lib Dem and independent candidates but their chances
of success will be slight.
London may be the economic power house of the UK but Parliament fears its wealth
and its reach. A powerful Mayor has the ability to upstage a PM. A reforming
mayor must be given greater tax raising rights. But here's the conundrum more
funding for Londoners means less for the rest of the country. And yet without a
global city with matching global standards of services the nation suffers.
The Treasury needs to be persuaded that it is time that the Mayor of London was
given fifty per cent of the revenues of stamp duty which could be hypothecated
to create funding for both infrastructure and social housing. She or he also
needs to take charge of every aspect of education including universities.
It will be interesting to see which of the mayoral candidates understands that
London cannot continue to be one of the top three global cities in the world
without a bigger cheque from the Treasury. In the first half of the twenty first
century the city state will be more trusted than those relics known as county
councils or unitary authorities. It is time for London to lead the way.