Justine Greening is MP for Putney, and a former Secretary of State for Education.
This week, the polls open, and Conservative members across London will have the chance to vote for their preferred London Mayoral candidate. Whoever wins will have just over nineteen months to get across to Londoners that there is a much better way to run City Hall and improve London for Londoners than the Sadiq Khan experiment we’ve had for the past two and a half years.
We have three superb candidates who will all absolutely have my full support, whichever wins. Nevertheless I reached the conclusion that Joy Morrissey is the fresh face that London and City Hall needs. Like so many of us, Joy is someone who has come here and made London her home. The schools, the hospitals, the transport – they’re as much a part of her life as for any of the rest of us. She has a stake in this city’s future success as much as anyone.
More than that, through the Centre for Social Justice, the think tank brilliantly set up by Iain Duncan Smith, Joy has put her time into actively working on the difficult issues we also face. For instance, homelessness, the fact that too many people in our city are so close to opportunity but end up being locked out of it. It’s easy to talk in politics. We’ve seen that “talk and no action” with our current Mayor. Joy is someone who’s actually rolled her sleeves up and got stuck in directly tackling the issues our city needs fixed. I respect that. Also, we’ve had our first ethnic minority mayor, but I think it’s time for London to have its first female mayor now.
Neither of the two main parties has ever had a female Mayoral candidate, and in London, in the year we are celebrating the centenary of women first getting the vote, I would be proud if it could be the Conservative party that gives that lead and gives that choice.
Last week the Evening Standard published polling showing the sharp drop in Khan’s popularity. As ever with politicians, you may or may not like them, but it’s what they’re delivering on the ground for us and our families that ultimately matters most. Khan has a track record not of delivery, but of broken promises: his failure to build the homes London needs in spite of £4.82 billion of Government funding to London to do just that; and soaring crime rates. As someone who uses the underground, commuters just don’t know what his plan is for improving the reliability of our daily commute. The question most of my constituents ask is: ‘What is he actually doing day to day?’ Over two years in, we still don’t know what a Khan Mayoralty is all about. We know his press budget has ballooned, but not much else seems to have been achieved.
Although he’s still favourite to win in 2020, the reality is he has a record that simply doesn’t deserve him to be re-elected. London can do a lot better.
Khan’s problem is that he had lots of promises but no plan. In his campaign, he promised the Earth to get elected, and it worked. But straight after, he ditched those promises one by one. As a result, he came into a four year term as our Mayor with no strategy to put into practice, so it’s not a surprise he’s totally failed to deliver for our city. He’s got only himself to blame for that. It’s why his popularity is dropping towards negative rating territory. On behalf of Londoners, we need to hold him to account, but also let London know our Conservative candidate can do much better.
The bottom line is that it’s about delivery, and Londoners know that Conservatives deliver. London Momentum thought they could wipe out the Conservatives in the local elections earlier this year. They were wrong. People didn’t like their ideologically driven proposals that end up vetoing regeneration. Or their high council tax. Or their lack of delivery on local day to day services we all rely on.
I think that as Conservatives, we have a golden opportunity to show our capital city a modern diverse Party that knows how to deliver for our communities.
That needs a strong campaigner and someone who’s prepared to be tirelessly out on the doorstep with activists, leading from the front. One of Joy’s great strengths – and one that I have witnessed on numerous of occasions – is her ability to build a team. Joy was selected as the Conservative Parliamentary candidate in the 2017 General Election for Ealing Central & Acton six weeks before the General Election. From a standing start she established a campaign team of over 100 activists, with people coming from far and wide to support her.
This year, Joy coordinated candidate support across Barnet, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster – three boroughs, where Labour and Momentum were confident of ousting fantastic Conservative councils. Our success in holding all three councils was due to the hard work of a great many fantastic Conservative councillors and activists, but Joy played a key part in making that happen.
Building a team and working effectively with others are both skills that are crucial to fighting a winning Mayoral campaign. They are also crucial to being an effective Mayor. One of Khan’s biggest failings has been an unwillingness or inability to do this. An effective Mayor needs to be able to bring people with diverse views together, persuading politicians of all parties to work with him or her. Joy has consistently done this as a local Councillor, working at the Centre for Social Justice and, in her pre-public service career, as a film producer.
Joy knows that the Conservative Mayoral candidate will have a major job in helping to galvanise the Conservative Party in London. She has written in detail about how she would do this, and make sure that her candidacy involves all members, boosts membership, and lays the groundwork for our Party to gain constituencies and boroughs all across London at elections in the coming years.
I believe that our national Party needs a strong London Conservative Party to thrive. Joy Morrissey has the backing of more MPs and more London MPs than either of the other candidates. Her support comes from all over London and from all wings of the Conservative Party, which means she can work for all of us. The more people see of Joy, the more they recognise what a fantastic candidate and potential she has to be a hugely effective London Mayor delivering on the ground for Londoners. That’s why she’s got my backing, and I hope London Conservative members can use their vote to do the same.