Tomorrow us Londoners have to choose who will be our Mayor for the next four years. As a green I wish Jenny Jones was heading for a huge victory but I am realistic and know that a strong vote for green candidates in the London assembly is probably the best we can hope for this time around.
Which leaves Londoners facing either four more years of Boris Johnson or a return to office for Ken Livingstone. As an environmentalist the prospect of Boris returning to office fills me with dread. His failure to address London's air pollution problem has led to what could described as a public healthcare emergency. The fact is that every year over 4000 Londoners are dying early because of London's poor air quality.
Rather than address this problem, Boris has chosen to focus on suppressing pollution levels around air quality monitors, misleading Londoners about the very real health risks. Since coming into office he has implemented a host of unfriendly environmental policies including scrapping 6-monthly taxi inspections and delayed the introduction of stage 3 of the low emission zone. All of this whilst lobbying for his crowning environmental disaster the building of a new airport in the Thames estuary.
All of the above policies demonstrate two things very clearly which voters should be aware of. Firstly Boris has no green credentials or desire to implement environmentally friendly policies. Secondly Boris is exactly like the Tories in government with a zeal for business first policies and de-regulation regardless of how it impacts on the environment or the lives of ordinary Londoners. Let us remember Boris was one of the most prominent Tories lobbying for a reduction in the 50p tax rate. And a recent analysis of Boris Johnson's diary revealed since coming into office he held just 15 public meetings with Londoners and 86 meetings with financial institutions.
Boris may claim he is 'different' from the Tories' but on the evidence of the last 4 years he certainly doesn't appear to be. In casual discussions with friends I am occasionally confronted with a friend who is considering voting Boris. What is clear is that they don't consider a vote for Boris as a vote for the Tories.
I hope this blog makes clear a vote for Boris this Conservative government by backing him you're by proxy backing the NHS reforms, tuition fees hike, public sector cuts and the scrapping of the 50p tax rate. If you want more environmental degradation, business first policies and a Mayor who considers bankers more important than citizens for London that is what Boris will offer you.
A friend attended the cycling hustings on Monday, when I asked about Boris's performance he said; "he looked knackered and alienated the crowd". We discussed Ken and agreed that perhaps Labour would have been better selecting a fresher face as their candidate. But when it comes to the environment although not ideal Ken will reduce public transport by 7% and work closely with Jenny Jones to create a cycling friendly London, which is badly needed. London cannot afford to gamble with another 4 years of Boris, he may give interesting interviews on TV but the health of Londoners is worth more than an occasionally laugh.