Londoners will soon be voting in elections to decide who will be their next mayor.
The pandemic was particularly severe for cities around the world and London was no exception. City workers, tourists and other visitors disappeared when lockdowns were put in place. The shops had to pull down their shutters and empty the offices.
Mayoral elections were also affected as the competition was delayed from May 2020 to May 2021 while the government focused on controlling the spread of Covid-19.
Financial News has scrutinized candidates from three major political parties – Shaun Bailey of the Conservative Party, Sadiq Khan of Labor and Luisa Porritt of the Liberal Democrats – to see what they said about the city during their campaigns.
Shaun Bailey – Conservative
Bailey is best known in politics as the Special Advisor on Youth and Crime at 10 Downing Street to former Prime Minister David Cameron from 2010 to 2013.
The former youth worker ran unsuccessfully as a candidate for Parliament for Hammersmith in 2010 and for Lewisham West and Penge in 2017, according to his profile at the London Assembly. The conservative politician has been a member of the London Assembly for five years.
During a debate on Bloomberg on April 30 with Khan, Porritt and Green candidate Sian Berry, Bailey touched on the work-from-home trend that saw the city empty for much of the pandemic.
“Let’s be clear, we never built the great center of London because it was a nice thing. We did it because it’s an efficient way to grow the business. But one of the groups of people who really need this is young people, ”Bailey said.
“We have a talent pipeline in London that we need to carry on. That means these young people have to be in senior citizens’ offices to learn that skills will make them successful in the future,” he added. “You can’t do that with video calls.”
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Housing and crime are among Bailey’s top priorities. The Conservative candidate also wants to launch commercial sponsorship to bolster Transport for London’s finances, which have been hard hit by the pandemic and the three lockdowns.
Bailey would introduce commercial sponsorship for the subway, similar to that already in place for the Santander-sponsored bike rental program better known as “Boris Bikes.”
In an interview with CityAM published May 3, Bailey said he will fight cocaine-fueled drug violence by urging all companies with 250+ employees to test their employees for drug tests.
“All the while, polite drug use people are unaware of it and they were part of the process and did not know or respond to it,” Bailey told the paper. “Just because you’re wearing an Armani suit to work and not a hi-vis doesn’t mean you should be exempted from being part of the solution.”
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Sadiq Khan – work
The current Mayor of London, Khan, also grew up on an estate like Bailey. The Labor candidate, who has been in the job since 2016, is the favorite to win. In his first term in office, the former human rights attorney mastered Brexit, several terrorist attacks and, more recently, the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement on April 30, Khan promised to launch a year-long “publicity campaign” to attract visitors back to central London. The capital has seen a drop in visitor numbers since the first lockdown in March last year. Most of the visitors disappeared as travel bans brought tourism to a standstill.
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“So, on the first day of my second term, I will launch an unprecedented campaign to support London’s economy – to welcome Londoners and visitors back to our city and to support sectors such as retail, leisure, hospitality and cultural institutions,” said he in the statement.
The mayor also said he would prepare an offer to bring the Olympic and Paralympic Games back to the English capital, keeping an eye on dates for 2036 and 2040.
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Luisa Porritt – Liberal Democrats
Porritt, a retired journalist, grew up in Camden and is chairman of the district’s Liberal Democrats Council group. She was elected City Councilor for Belsize in North London in 2018 and Member of the European Parliament as representative of London in May 2019.
As a remainer, she joined the Liberal Democrats after the 2016 referendum to leave the European Union. She joined the race for mayor in July 2020 after the party’s first election, Siobhan Benita, was canceled when the election was postponed.
Porritt told the BBC that she “never planned to go into politics, but then Brexit happened and everything changed”.
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“I’m going to vote against this deal today. I am doing this on behalf of the millions of British people who have voted to remain, including my constituents in London, ”said Porritt on January 29, 2020, speaking for the last time before the European Parliament.
One of the main priorities for Porritt in this election campaign was affordable housing.
During the Bloomberg debate, Porritt said that if she chose, she would convert empty office space into “high quality, affordable living space”. She also asked Khan to conduct an “assessment of the impact of homework on our capital and the number of empty office spaces we will have.”
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In an interview with the BBC, Porritt stated that the pandemic provided an opportunity to “breathe new life into our main streets” in the suburbs. If elected, she would set up a “Reinvent The High Streets Taskforce” to address the problem and consider more common workspaces and childcare services.
To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, send an email to Bérengère Sim