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1 May 2008

Sian Berry: Why you should vote for me

On the day London goes to the polls Green Party candidate for mayor Sian Berry makes her pitch to th

By Sian Berry

Why me? Well, quite simply because a Green Mayor would be the best thing that ever happened to London. You can tell this is true just by looking at the difference the two Greens on the London Assembly have already made to Ken Livingstone’s administration over the past four years. Just the raw budget figures give a strong flavour of this: the cycling budget has tripled from £21 million to more than £60 million, and the amount spent on making homes more energy-efficient has gone up from a paltry £100,000 a year to more than £11 million a year, and rising.

My Green colleagues Darren Johnson and Jenny Jones have been able to steer Ken firmly in the direction of creating a lower carbon London thanks to their votes being needed to pass his budget since the balance of power changed at the last London elections.

Actually having to listen to the Greens in order to pass your budget is a powerful spur to take real action, in contrast to waving around fine words and doing not much else, which is what you tend to get from other politicians – and, indeed, what we mainly did get from the mayor’s office up to 2004. It’s clear that Ken without the Greens keeping an eye on him would be a much poorer Mayor, and a less planet-friendly one.

But of course we’re not a single issue party. Many of the policies I’m promoting in this election, such as a living wage for all Londoners, a higher affordable housing requirement for developers, lower bus and tube fares and free insulation for every home that needs it (paid for through an EU law that means gas and electricity companies have to contribute to energy saving) are primarily concerned with social justice. The carbon saving benefits of free insulation and getting more people on the buses are almost incidental to the benefits they bring to the budgets of ordinary people in our city.

I’m after every first preference vote I can get in this election, and pointing out wherever I can that there’s no risk of letting in Boris Johnson by putting me first and Ken Livingstone second. If you already support the Greens, or if you are fed up with Ken, but anxious not to turn our city over to the Tories, this is probably the ideal combination of votes. That’s why, when The Observer this Sunday endorsed me for their first vote, they also recommended giving a grudging second round vote for Ken, to stop Boris.

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But, there’s another vote I want from you in this election. More importantly, and more realistically, I’m not just standing for Mayor but also for the London Assembly. On the PR ‘list’ ballot paper, I’m in with a good chance of joining Darren and Jenny on the Assembly after the first of May. Unlike some other candidates, I’m serious about running London. If I get elected as a Green AM, and if we still have a Mayor who needs our votes to get his budget through, I will not rest until I have got my two most important policies brought in.

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So, if you want your household bills (and household emissions) slashed with free insulation, and you believe that every worker in London desserves a living wage of at least £7.20 an hour, vote for me as Mayor, use your insurance vote to stop Boris taking over, and vote Green for the Assembly too.