Atricle for the Suburb Circular

I’ve been involved in London politics  for decades (since I was the youngest ever Westminster City Councillor in 1982), but I can’t remember  an election which has  been so unpleasant and divisive as the Conservatives’  campaign this time. With conflict round the world, it’s dangerous and wrong to exploit tensions and fears through  smears and innuendo, attempting  to set Jews against  Muslims, playing to crude  racial stereotyping  of Hindus, Tamils and Sikhs. That’s why, out of disgust, award winning journalist and Conservative Peter Oborne says for the first time he will vote Labour, for Sadiq Khan..

We need a Mayor for all Londoners, to bring the capital’s diverse population together in  common  cause to address our common problems, not appealing to narrow sectional interest. Sadiq’s many years  of interfaith work as a Government  minister and since, as well as his own understanding  of true Islam,  stand him in good stead. I‘ve seen the ease of  Sadiq visiting synagogues to break his Ramadan fast or to attend a  Seder lesson, Jewish Care  (where I overheard an elderly user say ‘he’s really human’,  as we moved on), and CST, and the welcome he receives from  worshippers at Kingsbury Mandir.

Yet the Conservatives pray that mud sticks, diverting attention from the real issues facing Londoners- policing and crime, transport and parking, London’s economy and Europe, air quality  and the  housing  crisis- because they’ve consistently  failed on all these fronts.

The Conservatives cut a staggering £600 million from the Metropolitan Police- with  £400m  more cuts to come. They closed Golders Green Police Station. They abolished Labour’s Safer Neighbourhood Teams – 9 officers and PCSOs in the Suburb- weakening our ability to tackle local crime, and breaking the ‘golden thread’ of intelligence gathering, vital in the fight against  terrorism.

In Barnet alone, the Conservatives axed 201 officers and PCSOs- 26% of our force compared to 2010.

Once their cuts started to bite, crime began to rise. Even the Metropolitan  Police Commissioner admitted  Barnet crime is up 6.4% year on year. Locally, burglary is up 5.7%.   How many burglaries result in charging a suspect?  Merely one in fifty!

That’s why I back Labour’s priority plan to restore real neighbourhood policing. To stand up for crime  victims.  To root out extremism. And to have zero tolerance towards all hate crime.

Under the Conservatives, public transport fares have increased over 40%. Hard pressed Londoners need Labour’s fully funded fares freeze.

Parking in Barnet? I don’t think I need to comment!

London’s  appalling air quality is the biggest challenge facing us all.  We led the world in environmental  innovation,  but after 8 years of a Conservative Mayor, 10,000 Londoners die prematurely  because of the Capital’s filthy (and illegal) air.

So I am pleased that Labour’s Sadiq Khan will consult on speeding up the Ultra Low Emission Zone, promote cleaner walking routes to school and  push for clean bus technology.

We realise we can’t act alone- air pollution is no respecter of national boundaries.  We need international cooperation with our European partners. That’s one reason why we back staying in the European Union. The Conservative candidate demands  Britain leaves the EU, isolating us in our battle for a cleaner environment- I dealt with the devastating impact on London’s economy of Brexit in my Suburb article in January.

Whilst all the candidates promise more homes, the real question is who gets to live in them. Sadiq will prioritise  Londoners over foreign speculators, ensuring a fair chance for both buyers and renters.

If I am re-elected as your Assembly member, you can rely on me to ensure these policies are delivered., too!