Boris Johnson - why vote for me

The Tory candidate for mayor of London explains why you should back him in the election on 1 May

I have never been one to talk about going on a journey in the non-physical sense. But over the last nine months I have undergone an experience no other word will suffice to express. I have travelled from zones one to six and met thousands of Londoners from all walks of life. I have toured markets, mosques, synagogues, suburbs, hospitals and high streets. I have witnessed the remarkable work being done by voluntary organisations in all corners of the capital. I have plunged my whole being into the warp and woof of this city in an attempt to seek out its core concerns and aspirations, and I have come out the other side determined to make a difference to the lives of everyone who lives here. Here’s why I want you to vote for me on Thursday.

London is a fantastic city, without doubt the most vibrant and dynamic in the world. But this city has serious problems, and the worst of them is crime. Violent crime is rife on our streets and the tragic toll of teenage deaths keeps rising. Incivility and casual disorder provide the mood music on many of London’s buses. People are scared of walking the streets in their neighbourhoods – and given the evidence of the mayor’s own statistics, that fear is entirely rational. It is appalling and unacceptable for the current mayor to brush off their fears with weasel words and sophistic statistics, or to blame the media for glamourising violence. I refuse to accept defeat on crime.

If I am elected as Mayor I will chair the Metropolitan Police Authority and make tackling violent crime my number one priority. I want to free the police from form-filling to allow them to patrol the streets. I will release funds for handheld weapon scanners to root out the guns and the knives. I will be a champion for the local organisations that are already doing fantastic work to free young people from the sense of hopelessness that leads to the flourishing of gangs. As well as ring-fencing money from the LDA towards community projects and competitive sport, the Mayor’s Fund for London will harness the wealth and skills of the private sector and channel those resources towards making London better for all.

I also have fresh ideas to make our public transport network safer, first by funding 440 additional Police Community Support Officers and 50 more British Transport Officers to patrol the buses, trains and station platforms. I will get tough on the behaviour that blights bus journeys by trialling live CCTV on the worst routes, and by introducing the ‘Payback London’ scheme to deal with the minority of under-18s who break the behaviour code.

Protecting our open, green spaces is another priority of my mayoral campaign, because in a city like London public places are social safety valves, mixing the people of this city in common enjoyment. By stamping down on low-level crime such as graffiti, fly-tipping and litter, we can make green spaces safe for children to play in again. Making such massive changes will only be possible if City Hall works with locally-elected politicians. A Johnson mayoralty will listen to borough councils, because they know what is best for their local area.

On 1st May Londoners have a choice. They can vote for more of the same from a tired, out-of-date administration that is beset by allegations of sleaze. Or they can vote for change – for safer streets, value for money, better public transport, the protection of London’s green spaces and a mayor who will deliver a better London for all Londoners. They deserve a mayor who will rise to the challenges set by our city, who has the energy and enthusiasm that has been sorely lacking in City Hall for too long. That is why Londoners should invest their trust in me. In return, I will work tirelessly to make London great again.

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The New Times: Brexit, globalisation, the crisis in Labour and the future of the left

With essays by David Miliband, Paul Mason, John Harris, Lisa Nandy, Vince Cable and more.

Once again the “new times” are associated with the ascendancy of the right. The financial crash of 2007-2008 – and the Great Recession and sovereign debt crises that were a consequence of it – were meant to have marked the end of an era of runaway “turbocapitalism”. It never came close to happening. The crash was a crisis of capitalism but not the crisis of capitalism. As Lenin observed, there is “no such thing as an absolutely hopeless situation” for capitalism, and so we discovered again. Instead, the greatest burden of the period of fiscal retrenchment that followed the crash was carried by the poorest in society, those most directly affected by austerity, and this in turn has contributed to a deepening distrust of elites and a wider crisis of governance.

Where are we now and in which direction are we heading?

Some of the contributors to this special issue believe that we have reached the end of the “neoliberal” era. I am more sceptical. In any event, the end of neoliberalism, however you define it, will not lead to a social-democratic revival: it looks as if, in many Western countries, we are entering an age in which centre-left parties cannot form ruling majorities, having leaked support to nationalists, populists and more radical alternatives.

Certainly the British Labour Party, riven by a war between its parliamentary representatives and much of its membership, is in a critical condition. At the same time, Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has inspired a remarkable re-engagement with left-wing politics, even as his party slumps in the polls. His own views may seem frozen in time, but hundreds of thousands of people, many of them young graduates, have responded to his anti-austerity rhetoric, his candour and his shambolic, unspun style.

The EU referendum, in which as much as one-third of Labour supporters voted for Brexit, exposed another chasm in Labour – this time between educated metropolitan liberals and the more socially conservative white working class on whose loyalty the party has long depended. This no longer looks like a viable election-winning coalition, especially after the collapse of Labour in Scotland and the concomitant rise of nationalism in England.

In Marxism Today’s “New Times” issue of October 1988, Stuart Hall wrote: “The left seems not just displaced by Thatcherism, but disabled, flattened, becalmed by the very prospect of change; afraid of rooting itself in ‘the new’ and unable to make the leap of imagination required to engage the future.” Something similar could be said of the left today as it confronts Brexit, the disunities within the United Kingdom, and, in Theresa May, a prime minister who has indicated that she might be prepared to break with the orthodoxies of the past three decades.

The Labour leadership contest between Corbyn and Owen Smith was largely an exercise in nostalgia, both candidates seeking to revive policies that defined an era of mass production and working-class solidarity when Labour was strong. On matters such as immigration, digital disruption, the new gig economy or the power of networks, they had little to say. They proposed a politics of opposition – against austerity, against grammar schools. But what were they for? Neither man seemed capable of embracing the “leading edge of change” or of making the imaginative leap necessary to engage the future.

So is there a politics of the left that will allow us to ride with the currents of these turbulent “new times” and thus shape rather than be flattened by them? Over the next 34 pages 18 writers, offering many perspectives, attempt to answer this and related questions as they analyse the forces shaping a world in which power is shifting to the East, wars rage unchecked in the Middle East, refugees drown en masse in the Mediterranean, technology is outstripping our capacity to understand it, and globalisation begins to fragment.

— Jason Cowley, Editor 

Tom Kibasi on what the left fails to see

Philip Collins on why it's time for Labour to end its crisis

John Harris on why Labour is losing its heartland

Lisa Nandy on how Labour has been halted and hollowed out

David Runciman on networks and the digital revolution

John Gray on why the right, not the left, has grasped the new times

Mariana Mazzucato on why it's time for progressives to rethink capitalism

Robert Ford on why the left must reckon with the anger of those left behind

Ros Wynne-Jones on the people who need a Labour government most

Gary Gerstle on Corbyn, Sanders and the populist surge

Nick Pearce on why the left is haunted by the ghosts of the 1930s

Paul Mason on why the left must be ready to cause a commotion

Neal Lawson on what the new, 21st-century left needs now

Charles Leadbeater explains why we are all existentialists now

John Bew mourns the lost left

Marc Stears on why democracy is a long, hard, slow business

Vince Cable on how a financial crisis empowered the right

David Miliband on why the left needs to move forward, not back

This article first appeared in the 22 September 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The New Times