Stephen Greenhalgh was the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime in London, and also served as Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council.
This General Election is on a knife-edge. As the Sun has revealed, just 32,195 votes in 50 key marginal constituencies will decide who governs Britain. We live in interesting times with the extraordinary spectacle of the ex-Labour Prime Minister, Tony Blair, hoping that Labour does not win, and Lord Heseltine, the former Conservative Deputy Prime Minister, calling for people to vote Lib Dem.
The content of the manifestos of the two main parties has been unveiled at the weekend. Labour plan to spend £28 for every £1 that the Conservatives plan to. Jeremy Corbyn has unveiled his triple tax bombshell on business, incomes over £80,000, and death, to fund this splurge, whilst Boris Johnson has offered voters a triple tax lock on income tax, national insurance, and VAT. Labour has declared war on enterprise and aspiration. Schools are the engine of opportunity, but Labour’s education policies will sink all ships. Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party want to abolish Ofsted, the independent inspector of schools that has been the guarantor of standards in our schools for decades. Labour also wants to scrap the Conservatives’ free schools programme and end the successful academy programme. Independent schools are under threat with Labour’s pledge to abolish all independent schools, confiscate their endowments, and “democratise” their assets. In contrast, the Conservatives have pledged to level up the funding of schools nationally and to deliver equality of opportunity, whilst safeguarding the hard-won education reforms. With knife crime and violence at an all-time high in our cities, both parties have pledged to increase police officer numbers dramatically.
Now the focus is on the content of the character of the two candidates who could be prime minister on December 13th. Let’s face it, Jo Swinson is a paper candidate for that job. In the Times, Ephraim Mirvis, the Chief Rabbi has said that Corbyn’s handling of the antisemitism allegations inside the Labour Party makes him “unfit for high office”. The current incumbent in Number 10 has also taken flak in recent weeks from Nick Boles who branded Johnson as “a compulsive liar”. This was given the added stamp of authority as he was “a former city hall chief of staff who had worked closely with Johnson as Mayor”.
The opposite is true. I say this as someone who worked closely with Mayor Johnson for eight years as his Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime and as a London council leader. Boles was Chief of Staff only for the transition in 2008 and was in City Hall for the blink of an eye. In fact, Mayor Johnson worked with the late Sir Simon Milton as his chief of staff for the bulk of the first term and then my political mentor, Sir Edward Lister, for the end of the first term and all of his second term of office. However, this fiction, presented as fact, has allowed Labour media commentators like Alastair Campbell to tweet about Johnson’s manifesto promises: “Your promises are utterly worthless. As anyone who ever had anything to do with you personally or politically can testify.”
I know that our current Prime Minister has the leadership qualities, political instincts, and character to deliver for Britain. Any number of people who worked with him in City Hall could have penned this article: Isabel Dedring, Daniel Moylan, Kit Malthouse, James Cleverly, Dr Munira Mirza, or Sir Edward Lister, who has been by his side in both City Hall and Downing Street. As Mayor, Johnson carefully selected and built an effective team around him to deliver on his election promises. He trusted that team to get on with the job. He was the opposite of a micro manager like President Carter who obsessed about every detail including bookings for the White House tennis courts.
However, Mayor Johnson was always crystal clear about what he wanted. His brief to me was to cut crime over his second term, ensure that there were no more riots, and keep police officer numbers at or around 32,000. This was a key election pledge in his narrow second term victory over Ken Livingstone. It is interesting to note that Lord Hogan-Howe endorsed Johnson to be the Leader of the Conservative Party in the summer. This former Metropolitan Police Service Commissioner and I worked closely to deliver that Johnson pledge to keep police officer numbers high, despite having to make £600 million savings over that four year mayoral term.
The vast majority of those who have been closest to Boris Johnson back him, and trust him, to deliver for Britain.