The former Sex Pistols manager and “godfather of punk”, Malcolm McClaren, has died at the age of 64. Among the early tributes that have poured in, perhaps the most succinct comes from the critic Jon Savage, who described McLaren as “one of the rare individuals who had a huge impact on the cultural and social life of this nation.”
McLaren’s career, which ranged across music, fashion and art was never dull, but for now, we’re casting our minds back to 1999, when he put himself forward as a candidate for mayor of London. He didn’t last the course, but he did launch a manifesto in the pages of the New Statesman.As you can see below, it is typically provocative – and includes McLaren’s now-infamous call to legalise brothels outside the Houses of Parliament. You can read the rest of his “vision for London” here.
Points to ponder: the McLaren Manifesto
1. Housing: The government has failed the homeless. The mayor should create a London homeless lottery system. Tickets will be sold by the homeless like the Big Issue. Computer hard- and software would allow the administration of the lottery to be run from street-corner kiosks. All money raised through ticket sales would go directly into housing, which would be designed and built by the homeless themselves. This would result in some great new buildings, with eclectic styles and taste – a real addition to our capital, rather than the faceless government housing schemes that have destroyed so much of the city. No existing council or government-owned housing would be allowed to remain empty. There would also be pressure to use the space over shops – many London high streets are empty above shop level. Multiple use would lead to safer streets and livelier ones.
2. Education: Revive the Ilea, which provided adult education at affordable prices – £1 per year for those on subsidies or in full-time education. These courses serve social as well as educational ends. Students can study anything from belly dancing to the bassoon. Currently the courses are underfunded and too expensive, which means they are undersubscribed and many have had to shut down.
3. Transport: Bring back electric transport – more environmentally friendly. trams running the two main axes through London (N-S and E-W) should be free during off peak hours. More should be made of the Thames by introducing water/river buses, which would be operated by London Transport. We should turn to alternative means of transport, such as rickshaws, bicycles and horses. Reduce the number of cars coming into London by imposing a direct tax. We should give people incentives to buy electric cars by allowing them to park anywhere. Traffic control (wardens, fines, clamping and so on) should directly fund public transport.
4. London sports week: London’s boroughs should have their own football teams and compete annually.
5. Lobby for decriminalising (some) drugs: Use Amsterdam as a model to reduce organised crime in the capital. This would have an added benefit: police would not waste time chasing pot-smokers.
6. No fees for museums or art galleries: Londoners should not pay entrance fees for museums or galleries, but should be able to drift through public buildings as alternative routes through town. All non-UK residents entering Britain would pay an entrance tax (collected at airports) to be directed into national collections.
7. Flag for London: Create the first ever multi-ethnic flag for the 21st century to reflect the true population of London.
8. Reclaim public places: Parks, squares, churches and the Thames should be open night and day. We should introduce bars in public libraries; drink a glass of Guinness while reading Dickens.
9. London carnival: To be held by different groups from across London, the carnival would take over Oxford Street. We would also establish a Don’t Buy Anything Day, and a No Car Day will allow kids to play in the streets.
10. Chains/cappuccino culture: Restructure rates in order to tax business according to scale. Chains such as Pret A Manger, for instance, now pay the same rates as a local florist. If we don’t save small businesses, London will lose its soul and become like Singapore or Hong Kong – a shrine to capitalism.
11. Legalise brothels opposite the Houses of Parliament: This will help get rid of sleaze scandals in the government and allow us to focus on the real bullshit that the elite produces.
12. Hologram of Dixon of Dock Green: Introduce information stations, the BBC’s famous old-fashioned neighbourly copper – “virtual reality” information covering street directions, train and bus information and suchlike.
13. Popular protest: London has a proud history of freedom of expression – anarchists, revolutionaries and dissidents have written their pamphlets here. Street protest is every Londoner’s right and should never be stomped upon.
14. Licensing: Certain areas to be designated 24-hour zones with no licensing restrictions so that we encourage chance encounters.
15. Website democracy: New technology could encourage a more responsive democracy, with local voters using the web to voice their opinion on anything from whose statue should be put up or taken down, to one-way streets.
16. Artisans in Oxford Street: With more e-commerce, old-fashioned department stores should be more diversified, welcoming artisans. Shoemakers could set up their workshops in John Lewis, table-makers in Selfridges. Subsidise artisans and allow Londoners into the process of production.