Baroness Finn is a former government adviser on industrial relations, efficiency, and civil service reform. She is the seventh shortlisted London Mayoral candidate to answer our questions.
Why are you standing for Mayor of London?
Sadiq Khan is failing to grapple with all of the serious issues facing London and Londoners. He is a professional politician obsessed with photocalls and press releases. London needs a Mayor who is focused on delivery not presentation, on practical results not poll ratings. As the daughter of a Czech immigrant who went to my local comprehensive school in south Wales, I chose to make my life and build my career in London. It is an amazing city that has given me and my family great pleasure and incredible opportunities. I want to make sure it continues to deliver such opportunities for future generations.
What sort of campaign should the Conservatives run?
We need to run a positive campaign focused on practical policies to improve the lives of all Londoners, of all races, creeds, ages, backgrounds and postcodes. London should be promoted internationally, especially in culture and trade. Any attacks on Sadiq Khan should focus on the promises he has broken and his failures to deliver, not on his religion or his work as a human rights lawyer.
What would you do to reduce crime?
The rise in violent crime is the most urgent challenge for London. Instead of constantly passing the buck like the current Mayor, I would work hand in glove with Sajid Javid and Cressida Dick to ensure that the Met have the resources and powers that they need to get knives off our streets – and those who use them behind bars. But tough enforcement won’t be enough. We need to understand why teenagers feel the need to own a knife, and intervene early, in school, in after school clubs, through apprenticeships, through churches, mosques and temples, to offer young people other outlets for their frustrations, and other places to make themselves heard. We also need to understand and tackle the underlying drugs problems. I would use the experience and expertise of others to develop and deliver in this area.
What would you do about housing?
The lack of housing that working Londoners can afford poses an existential threat to London. We need to build more – of all types and all tenures. Instead of using the housing budget to curry favour with the Corbynistas who now control most of the Labour Party in London, I will work with anyone and everyone – with developers, councils, tenant organisations, housing associations, Transport for London – to maximise the number of new affordable homes being built. I will work with Housing Minister (and former deputy Mayor) Kit Malthouse to get more resources to support new affordable housing, and use the full range of powers to unlock public sector land, and compel developers to build out sites quickly.
What would you do to improve transport?
London has one of the most expensive public transport systems in the world. Why? Partly because it is controlled by militant left wing trade unions, and no Mayor has had the courage to challenge them. I have long experience of successfully negotiating with trade union leaders, especially over pension reform in the Coalition Government. I was described as the “silk and steel” adviser behind the trade union reforms. We need a Mayor who, like Margaret Thatcher, knows how to wield a handbag, but also turn on the charm, insist on a modern approach and demand – and obtain – the best deal for Londoners.