THE BLOG

We Must Ensure That Young Voices Are Heard and Valued in Shaping London's Future

25/06/2015 17:20 BST | Updated 25/06/2016 10:59 BST

This blog is a written response to Kenny Imafidon's recent HuffPost Young Voices blog, 'Open Letter to All Potential Mayoral Candidates (A Response Would Be Nice)', which can be read here

Kenny, as a lifelong Londoner, and a London MP of more than twenty eight years, I hear you.

When I was a young woman London seemed a city of limitless hope and opportunity but this is no longer the case today for Londoners both young and old. You are completely right to question why in a city that houses more millionaires than any other city in the world, over a third of children are growing up in poverty. Under Boris Johnson inequality has become a yawning chasm. Ordinary Londoners are being left behind.

We therefore have an essential duty to ask what kind of city we want. London's strength has always come through its diversity but we are moving towards an increasingly homogenised and socially cleansed model of living. Spiralling housing costs, rising transport fares, low wages, and insecure employment is leaving many Londoners struggling to get by. We must wake up to the shameful fact that many lifelong residents are being forced out of the communities in which they work and call home.

But as a mayoral hopeful I believe that I have a progressive vision to address these deepening problems. We can tackle the housing crisis through rent control, enforcing mandatory affordable housing quotas on developers, cracking down on bad landlords, allowing councils to borrow to build, and kick-starting development on over fifty thousand brownfield sites across the city.

To provide relief to those struggling to meet spiralling costs of living it is vital to roll out a city wide living wage and freeze transport fares for four years. To offer agency and opportunity to young people we must introduce votes at sixteen and restore the educational maintenance allowance.

I regularly meet young Londoners who are passionate about their city but are worried about their future. For many years I have run the London Schools and the Black Child Academic Achievement Awardd and I have been astonished year on year by the talent, hard work, and creativity of the city's youth. We must ensure that these young voices are heard and valued in shaping London's future.

Kenny, I believe that London is the greatest city in the world but it is beset by the mortal threat of deepening inequality. I wholeheartedly agree that if London is to continue to thrive we must deliver change to ensure the city functions for all, not just a privileged few. I know I can be the mayor to deliver that change.

Diane Abbott is the Labour MP for Hackney North, nd is seeking nomination to be Labour's London Mayoral candidate in 2016