Zac Goldsmith is the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London and the MP for Richmond Park
This year will be an important year for London – and for all Londoners – as it’s the year our city will choose its next Mayor.
When I took the decision to stand in the Mayoral election, I did so with some trepidation. I had just been elected by my constituents for a second term, and I didn’t want to let them down.
I have never seen being an MP as a springboard for something bigger. I knowingly gave up any chance of promotion to Government by voting always with my conscience, even where that set me against my own Party.
But as Boris Johnson steps down – having put London back on the map – our Capital is at a serious crossroads, and I know that I can bring the same level of commitment to solving London’s problems as I have for my own constituency. And so I asked my constituents for their consent via a referendum to stand in this election, and I was grateful when an overwhelming majority gave me a green light.
London has undoubtedly prospered under Boris, even through the recession. But that success has come at a price, and it is being felt by a significant number of Londoners who are being priced out of their own City.
There are too many young adults still living in their childhood bedrooms, trapped by escalating property prices. Families are spending more time commuting than they do with each other. Too many lives are brought short by pollution in our air. London is safer now than it was when Boris was first elected, but some crimes are beginning to rise again.
That’s why the mayoral election in May matters so much. The next Mayor needs to ensure that it is not only London that prospers, but Londoners themselves. The very people who make this city the most successful in the world need to feel the benefits of that success.
Over the next four years we need a step change in the number and type of new homes we build, we need to grow our transport network to keep up with a growing population and to improve the lives of London’s millions of commuters. We need to protect and improve neighbourhood policing to make our streets safer, and we need to clean up our air. I want to go further and make London the greenest city on Earth.
A strong Mayor can do these things, but only by working with the Government. London generates huge wealth for the country, hands most of it to Central government and must then plead with the Government for some of it back. That is a weakness, but it is also a fact, and the first line in the job description of Mayor of London is to secure a good deal from the Government.
I know I can do that. As an MP I have consistently held the Government to account, but I haven’t just shouted from the sidelines; I have worked with the Government. As a Mayoral candidate, I have pressed the Government to amend the Housing Bill to make it work for London, and to protect the police budget so we can keep our streets safe.
This matters for London and it is why the choice in May is so important. With the help of the Unions, Labour have chosen a candidate who embodies machine politics. Over the last five years in parliament Sadiq Khan has never voted against the instructions of his own party. He has no record or reputation for being willing to work with anyone outside of his Party, which is essential for a successful Mayor.
If he is elected, he will use the platform to score political points for his own Party. Londoners will face four years of gridlock, squabbling and blame.
The next four years will be crucial for London, and we cannot afford to waste them. It is a much-used cliché, but London is truly the greatest city on Earth. But it needs to work for the people who live here, and I will devote every ounce of energy to campaigning to be elected as your Mayor, so that I help make that happen.
If you would like to take part and help in my campaign please join here.