THE BLOG

It Is Time to Engage With George Galloway's Policy Proposals

22/03/2016 10:56 GMT | Updated 22/03/2017 09:12 GMT

The bookmakers have George Galloway in third place for the position of Mayor of London, which is determined by the Supplementary Vote. Neither Sadiq Khan nor Zac Goldsmith stands any realistic chance of winning outright on first preferences. They, and all other Mayoral candidates who want to win, need to start engaging with Galloway's policy proposals. No, I do not live in London. But its governance affects us all. And in any case, try answering these questions.

Will you require and insist that any housing project submitted for your approval must be comprised of 50 per cent affordable housing? Will you define affordable housing as 50 per cent of average rents, not the 80 per cent that is currently the case? Will you fight to introduce legislation to take back idle properties and developments that are not lived in, rented, or used for business purposes by their owners?

Will you be a voice on the national stage to bring this issue to the centre of our political debate, seeking allies in all parties and in all parts of the country, to crack down on the speculators, and to make sure that our national priority became the provision of affordable and decent housing for all?

In introducing an all-night Tube service, will you make sure that workers are properly consulted on the process, are properly recompensed, and are not forced into working long, unsocial, and potentially dangerous hours?

Will you ban HGV vehicles from Central London during daytime hours, in a bid to reduce fuel emissions during those hours? Will you invest in more cycle lanes and initiatives that make it safer to cycle around London? Are you against a third runway at Heathrow, since Gatwick offers a better alternative?

Will you support moves to renationalise the rail network? Will you be a leading voice at national level demanding that this country follow Australia's example of forcing Uber to pay VAT, and take the international lead in requiring Uber to pay its fair share of corporation tax?

Do you propose to merge the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police? Do you propose a substantial increase in the recruitment of black and minority ethnic Police Officers? Do you propose a zero tolerance attitude to racism within London's Police Force?

Will you end the scandal of stop and search, which has marginalised ethnic minority communities? Will you give greater powers to the Police to deal with hate crimes? Will you deliver greater spending to ensure the protection of places of worship such as mosques, synagogues and churches?

Will you turn the Oyster Card into an interest free debit card that can be used in shops and restaurants, for other services, and for the transfer of money abroad, either in family remittances or simply when parents needed to send emergency funds to their children overseas? In that sense, will you turn City Hall into a publicly owned People's Bank?

Will you put the £18 billion annual City Hall budget online in real time, absolutely transparently, so that every expenditure, by every department and official including the Mayor, was visible to the public, and was thus able to be criticised instantly? To achieve this, will you use the BlockChain technology developed by London's red hot FinTech industry, currently based in the Shoreditch Corridor?

Will you end immediately all fire station closures, and all cuts to London's fire services? Will you reverse the cuts that have already been made to this vital, lifesaving public service? Have you a close working relationship with the London Fire Brigades Union, such as could be used to ensure that Londoners enjoyed the world class fire service that they deserved?

In view of London's unique contribution and requirements, will you campaign to have a "London NHS", with its own budget run directly by City Hall, allowing the Mayor to ensure that Londoners had access to a healthcare service suited to the unique pressures and challenges faced by a global city in the twenty-first century?

The answer to none of these questions involves milk, cats, leotards, Celebrity Big Brother, the Middle East in general, or the long dead Saddam Hussein in particular. But answering them does require courage and indefatigability.