Please note this post is from my previous blog. To read my posts during the 2017 General Election campaign click here.
In the space of two weeks, the contest for the Conservative nomination for Mayor of London has finally come alive. The Party is lucky to have several strong candidates in the running – Zac Goldsmith, Andrew Boff, and now, after much deliberation, Syed Kamall joining the race on Friday. All three have a lot to offer – and from the Greenwich perspective, Andrew and Syed have both been long-standing friends of our borough and its residents in their roles at the London Assembly and European Parliament.
I urged Syed to run earlier this year – and I’m backing him for the nomination now – because I know his ideas and his leadership are exactly what London needs to tackle the challenges it faces. We share the same politics – achieving smaller, more effective government, backing businesses to create wealth and opportunity, and ensuring that anyone who works hard can achieve their aspirations. Most importantly of all, we both believe in a relentless focus on tackling poverty – and not through the lazy idea that the only solution to a problem is for the state to throw money at it.
This is an agenda that has an instinctive appeal to Londoners – and one that can help the Conservatives reach out to secure new sources of support, as Boris has done so successfully over the last eight years. It’s also an offer that I know, from my experience as a councillor and standing for Parliament here in Greenwich, has the potential to win Syed significant support from residents in our borough.
Some people bemoan the Americanisation of British politics – with elections like those for the Mayor of London sometimes appearing to focus more on the personalities involved than the policies they will implement. But for me, for a role like this, the person matters just as much as the plan. For a city as diverse in background, outlook and opinion as London – as Mayor you need to be able to bring people together and unite us around common goals. Boris has done that – and Syed can too.
He will be helped by being one of the nicest people in politics – and having the kind of down-to-earth humility that many people have ceased to expect from their politicians. That humility couldn’t have been better reflected than in his launch speech yesterday – in which he admitted he is not the favourite in this race. His campaign may not be the best-funded, and his odds may not quite as short as some of the other fine candidates in the contest – but it is a campaign that has genuinely come from the grassroots, with activists like me in all 32 of London boroughs urging him to stand and coming on board to help.
That level of enthusiasm across the capital is all the more remarkable considering the gruelling two years of big elections that we have just gone through.
And yet, the Mayoral election is only 11 months away, and we all have a duty to make sure the contest provides the great debate over London’s future that the voters deserve.
I’m looking forward to backing Syed to lead us into that great debate – and then back into City Hall.