Tiemo Talk of The Town
London Mayoral Debate
Royal Commonwealth Society
Monday 28 April 2008
Host – Amadeus Martin
- Alan Craig (Christian Choice Party)
- Lindsey German (Left List)
- Paul Wiffen (UKIP)
- Steven Uncles (English Democrats London regional Chairman)
- Winston McKenzie (Independent)
These people represented 5 of the 10 Mayoral and London Assembly candidates standing at the London elections on 1 May 2008. They provided substantially diverse ideas on how London should be run than voters are hearing from Boris, Ken and Brian.
This was an extraordinary debate which ended with a sensational twist and caused uproar inside the hallowed setting of the Royal Commonwealth Society.
“£1000 offered to every couple that gets married, take back the £13.5bn subsiding the Scottish society, abolishing the Congestion charge, extending school hours to 8pm and introducing evening curfew for young people…” Just a few of what may seem like an avant-garde of solutions to issues of the ordinary man on London’s streets. This is what the ‘other’ runners in the election propose. Yes, there are others.
10 CANDIDATES STANDING
Anyone could be forgiven for thinking that only ‘two and a half’ candidates are running for mayor, but in a round table discussion, organised by Tiemo Talk of The Town, on Monday evening, 28 April 2008, at the Royal Commonwealth Society, attended by 5 of the 10 contenders, yes 10 contenders, I’m sure they’d beg to differ. This was the only debate in the entire election campaign to feature so many of the “other” candidates aside from Boris, Brian and Ken.
Though they disagreed on a wide number of issues, there was one issue they were all united on : That the mainstream media decided who was running for Mayor and who they’d talk and write about by way of information to you the newspaper reader/ TV viewer. In a nation that boasts of a premier league, open, level-playing field democracy, this election campaign has patently been anything but that. The media coverage opportunity has mostly gone to the well funded big parties, with well heeled, resourceful supporters with clout. Paul Wiffin of UKIP eloquently explained that the American model for politics, adopted by the media, could be the fundamental problem for Britain. Creating a 2-party race and condensing the whole election down to personalities because reality sells, so unfortunately the people at grass-root level get no coverage, no media opportunities to engage with the wider general public. The average Londoner has been subjected to something of an adversarial ‘gladiator’ type contest. Pick a personality and get on his side. Tiemo Talk of The Town sought to address that trend by providing this platform for debate.
CANDIDATE SUPPORTS RIVAL PARTY!
Given the opportunity, ordinary Londoners might have seen things a little differently if they had been at this debate which began with a surprise announcement that Alan Craig (Christian Choice Party) is backed by Matt O’Connor (English Democrats), who withdrew from the election last Friday. Lindsey German(Left List), Steven Uncles (English Democrats), Paul Wiffen (UKIP) and Winston McKenzie (Independent and the only African-Caribbean candidate) offered substantially diverse ideas on how London should be run than voters are hearing from Boris, Ken and Brian.
Each nominee is spearheading their campaign with at least one major issue they believe is under-represented. “It is not a secret that it is getting harder and harder for people to live in London” stated Lindsey German (Left List) on the question of rising costs. “The cost of living, food, gas and electricity, housing and transport are all things that mean that for most ordinary Londoners at the end of the month they spend most of their money on bills. Our policies are to get a big reduction in tube and bus fares and an emergency programme for council house building and a situation where the money is spent in a better way for youth and community services, schools and hospitals”.
Alan Craig (Christian Choice Party), painted by Lindsey as a right winger on a lot of issues because of his policies on family, immigration and opposition to mosques is pushing forward for the re-construction of the family unit which may not tackle transport or housing issues, but according to him is the answer to seriously reducing youth crime, teenage violence and educational under achievement. “No one else wants to talk about it, but I am not ashamed to say that havoc is reeking in our society and the key problem is due to the undermining and destruction of the family unit. If we deal with that first everything else will fall into place. I am promoting marriage which is a commitment that provides the most stable format in which to raise children and I will be offering £1,000 to every couple that gets married.”
Steve Uncles’ (English Democrats) stance is to question the £2,500 Londoners pay per year to subsidize Scotland’s rich region. “They have free prescriptions on the NHS, 11 life-saving drugs available to them and not England and free University fees for students. The fundamental solution is for England to have their own parliament which will represent the needs of the people and get a reduction in council tax or improve public services.” Although Paul Wiffen identifies with some of these solutions he sees them as more long term and for the issues that Londoners are facing there needs to be a sense of immediacy, “We are looking to abolish the congestion charge. The rich people are always going to be able to afford to use their cars regardless of the price, but it penalizes the small business owners, or people who need to take equipment around for whom public transport is not an option. We also believe that the traffic patterns are deliberately being manipulated to make the Congestion Charge look effective which might ease the cost of living.”
Winston McKenzie’s (UKIP) campaign is focused on saving the children. “Our policies are about the youngsters and gun and knife crime. None of the candidates seem to understand the intensity of the situation. It is not about bringing out new tazer guns or stop-and-search policies; it is far deeper than that. We need a hands-on Mayor. We need to be out there at ground level to get to the core of the issues that the young people are facing. Most of the problems are among the minorities in London. Our children are the leaders of tomorrow, our doctors, nurses, technicians and future leaders. They have no role models and no-one to meet them at their level.”
The discussion ended with a shocking revelation from Steve Uncles that Matt O’Connor had withdrawn due to dealing with alcoholism. Steve Uncles admitted to managing Matt O’Connor’s campaign and thought it unbecoming that Alan Craig was happy to have him as a supporter in his camp. “I paid the £10,000 for Matt’s campaign and I helped him get the signatures. The character of a man pulling out at the last minute should be abysmal and I find it appalling that you should be associated with a divorced alcoholic especially in light of the issues of family that you are highlighting,” said Steve Uncles. Alan Craig uttered that it was sad that Steve Uncles had to brand Matt in the media about his personal issues.
WHO PAYS ?
Still the questions remain, “Who would pay for the implementation of all these ideas and how long would they last? Would they make any substantial difference to the lives of the millions living in London? Are they any different to Boris, Ken and Brian?”
According to ITV London survey opinion polls are erratic; Londoners are still unconvinced and undecided. Who are you voting for this 1st of May 2008?
The debate was organised by Michael Peters of Tiemo Talk of The Town and hosted by Amadeus Martin.
For more information on the candidates please go to the websites below. The BBC link provides an excellent, simple to follow guide to comparing the 10 candidates issue by issue.
By Desiree Joule-Adam
©Tiemo Talk of The Town.
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Stimulating Debate – Finding Solutions
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BBC website – profile of candidates