Jenny Jones, Green Mayoral Candidate, 'I Don't Trust Boris But I Admire Ken'

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Jenny Jones Wants Her Supporters To Vote Ken On Second Preference In The Mayoral Election
Jenny Jones Wants Her Supporters To Vote Ken On Second Preference In The Mayoral Election

Jenny Jones, the Green party mayoral candidate for London, came out of the first hustings in the election campaign on Tuesday smelling of roses, or daffodils, or some other kind of green and verdant plant.

While Boris and Ken blustered and argued the toss over figures and tax affairs, Jones came across as the voice of calm - and Twitter certainly seemed to find her a breath of fresh air.

Fresh air, of course, being one of her key policies going into the election. London's air quality has reached hazardous levels in recent years, regularly breaching EU rules for pollutants.

But for this 62 year-old London Assembly member, raised on a "very nice council estate" in Brighton, the problem is being ignored, even by the Londoners forced to breathe the smoggy air.

"We are in line for huge fines from the EU. Instead of dealing with the problem, Boris has chosen to bring down the level of pollution that's measured," she told HuffPost UK.

It's something the rest of the media have picked up on in recent days, with accusations that Boris is trying to massage down the air quality indices in the capital ahead of the Olympics.

For Jones, it's a silent killer that needs to be talked about. "Air pollution brings early deaths to 4,000 Londoners a year," she insists. "We can't see it, so people aren't concerned about it."

Jones is keen to stress that her policies aren't just about the environment. She sat on the London Policy Authority for nearly twelve years, and like many in her position fiercely opposed the abolition of the police authorities in favour of police commissioners - or in London's case, the Mayor taking direct oversight of the Met.

"It reduced the democratic oversight because control of the police should come as far down the system as possible," she tells us.

"We now have a police committee that's going to keep an eye on the Mayor. We're not keeping an eye on the police, we're keeping an eye on the mayor. There's a bit of irony because it's not cutting the costs at all. The system here is going to cost more money, with less oversight and less democracy."

Under the transferable vote system which elects London Mayors, Jones stands little chance of winning. But she'll be around in the future anyway, telling us: "Whatever the outcome of this election, I'm going to be elected because I'll be elected to the London Assembly. And I'm going to be pushing our manifesto. Ken Livingstone has said if he's elected he's going to make me 'supreme commander of walking and cycling', and just there I'll make a lot of difference."

Jones makes no secret that of the two main candidates, she favours Ken, and has suggested to her supporters that they make Labour's candidate their second preference on the ballot paper. Her contempt for Boris Johnson is palpable:

"I've found it impossible to work with Boris, which I'm very sad about. I didn't know him at the start and didn't trust him. Unfortunately now I know him better I trust him even less.

"He is very charming and funny, but you get the feeling he has no vision, beyond having a few photo opportunities. I can't believe he makes any of the big decisions. He doesn't knuckle down, he doesn't do his homework, or display the sort of knowledge of London that warrants that very big job."

In addition to ensuring that Ken beats Boris, Jones also has her sights on coming in third place, above Brian Paddick, who she believes will suffer because of the Lib Dems' role in the coalition.

"At the moment he's at five percent of the polls, and we're at three percent. If they started putting my names into those polls I'd be registering better. I do feel sorry for the Lib Dems, but it's tough choices, if you want power you're going to have to pay for it."

So could the Green Party overtake the Lib Dems nationally? Jones thinks it'll take a long time, but that it's perfectly achievable. "Where they are now, we could be in 10, 15 years time."

So does that mean working with national parties in a coalition one day, including the Tories? "I think it would be impossible for the Greens to work with the Tories in a national government."

Well we've heard that before.

Quick Fire:

Q) When was the last time you cried?
A) At the Holocaust memorial here at City Hall

Q) Your favourite colour - you can't say green?
A) Sorry but I'm going to have to! A dark, sparkly green

Q) Your favourite national politician?
A) We're not picking from a very big pool, I guess Ken Livingstone, I do admire him, he's a committed, principled person.

Q) Your Favourite place in London?
A) My little garden

Q) Positive or negative about the Olympics?
A) I'm feeling neutral because I didn't get any tickets for it. But I am hopeful. We are incredibly creative as a nation. Barring a terrorist attack, things should go smoothly.