Tony Devenish is the London Assembly Member for Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, and the City of Westminster.
Nine months of foot-blistering campaigning later – what has changed in London local government?
Despite Momentum’s Marxist bravado – very little. Labour still dominates the London boroughs though Jeremy Corbyn’s nastiness (and the realities of demographics ward by ward) blunted further Labour advances at our cost. We Tories suffered more substantial loses to the Lib Dems. Huge thanks to all who campaigned so hard, especially our friends who failed to get elected – my own personal thanks and “come back soon” to Harry Phibbs, Joe Carlebach, Richard Holloway, Lloyd North, and my London Assembly colleague, Tony Arbour.
CCHQ’s funded borough-by-borough Campaign Managers have proved a resounding success. Thank you Party Chairman, Brandon Lewis, and Deputy Chairman, James Cleverly, and all the team.
At the two year half-way stage of the Labour Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan’s, first term – has the Mayor actually achieved anything? The London Assembly Conservatives are producing an updated “Cost of Khan” report to be published on our website soon.
Eight years’ into a third Conservative Government, the London Question has to be: “How can we London Tories show we are “on Londoners’ side” ?
I’m indebted to YouGov – Joe Twyman and Nadhim Zahawi MP – for running a poll to pursue this point. (It took place in February, interviewing a weighted sample of 1,155 London adults, before Nadhim’s well deserved entry into Government). The questions are entirely mine – all brickbats should be directed to me. I appreciate that many of my suggested questions are “reinventing the wheel”.
I have tried to ‘nudge’ the debate back to the consumer-led politics of Margaret Thatcher. Often we are too intellectual as a Party. Yes values are hugely important in public life but so are cost of living issues. I acknowledge that some of the questions will irk Conservative Home readers, and may appear “gimmicks’ more appropriate to Labour-lite politics. I stress that questions five and six (and others) do not reflect my personal views. Question three is partly done already. Of course some questions cut across borough and national remits.
As a London Assembly Member I do not pretend to have all the answers – but the launch of several new think tanks and ginger groups on the Right illustrates – as does the soon to be launched Conservative Mayor of London candidate search – that we all need to offer solutions rather than fight about Brexit.
My policy questions / suggestions for the next Conservative Mayor of London candidate to consider running on are:
Question 1: Automatically give social housing tenants with no rent arrears or anti-social behaviour a ten per cent ownership equity stake in their home, with the option of purchasing a larger stake in future : Good idea 36 per cent. Bad idea 38 per cent.
Question 2: Give people under the age of 30 a 50 per cent discount on London transport for journeys made before 7am: Good idea 57 per cent. Bad idea 25 per cent
Question 3: Offer free public transport, free council tax, and a tax free allowance to people who volunteer as police specials: Good idea 52 per cent Bad idea 28 per cent
Question 4: Prevent councils from increasing their council tax if any neighbouring council currently charges a lower rate of council tax. Good idea 55 per cent. Bad idea 21 per cent.
Question 5: Introduce a new higher rate of council tax for property worth more than £3m. Good idea 71 per cent. Bad idea 12 per cent.
Question 6: Freeze the salaries of City Hall employees who earn more than £100,000 for the next 4 years and put the money saved towards higher salaries for the lowest paid. Good idea 78 per cent. Bad idea 8 per cent.
The full results are available here.
The object of this article is to stimulate debate – we need the right person as our Mayor of London candidate as I set out last December but we cannot afford to be policy lite – we already have a Mayor of London in post with little or no idea how to govern London. In May 2020 we must win the Mayor / GLA Elections by shouting from the roof tops that we are “on Londoners’ side” and showing how.