Although I've been involved in London politics a while and was, in fact, invited to "fill the void" as the Conservative's mayoral candidate when Jeffrey Archer stood down at the first mayoral elections, what has really driven me to stand as Mayor of London is the inequality London faces when compared to other areas of the country. London seems so often to be treated like a city filled with nobody but wealthy bankers, infinitely taxable to pay for services elsewhere in the country, despite our own city having some of the poorest areas in the UK.
Nothing highlights this more for me than the recent bombastic outburst by the leader of Scottish Labour, Jim Murphy MP, when he said that the proposed mansion tax, which will be paid predominantly by London and the south east, would pay for 1000 nurses in Scotland.
Scotland, with its net deficit to the treasury, Scotland with its free prescriptions and free Tuition fees - available to everyone living in Europe except those living in England and specifically London who exports to Scotland the shortfall in their spending. Scotland who, courtesy of a totally out-dated 'Barnett Formula' devised in 1978, get an extra £1593 per head per annum from their brethren over the border, are now being told by Labour that their NHS will get more nurses, and not to worry about the bill, because London will pick up the tab.
The late Lord Barnett himself said he was ashamed that his name was still associated with the formula, calling it a "national embarrassment". It was intended as a very short term fix 'drawn up on the back of an envelope' - isn't it time we brought the nation forward 40 years and place the needs of people over party politics? London's population is returning to pre-war levels, it's a modern, dynamic city - not a city that sits still. How can such a city be hamstrung by a formula that's not fit for purpose?
We're talking about homes, not mansions - it makes me sick
Now, before I launch into this let me give you a few more details about the disparity. I warn you, it's relentless.
Despite London having a great number of the poorest boroughs in the entire country, Scots get £307 per head more on housing, Londoners get just £138. Scots also get more than twice as much for economic development: £992 per head compared to £469 here. Some £1,441 is spent per head on education in Scotland compared to £1,360 here. Scots, who enjoy free personal care, have £1,857 spent on them for social care and pensions, compared to £1,652 here in London.
Spending on health is £1,912 per person in London, compared to £2,115 in Scotland (oh, did I mention - they pay no prescription charge!).
So back to these extra 1000 nurses they want from London's "mansion tax". A standard 5 bedroom semi-detached house in Finchley, a nothing out of the ordinary suburb of London, will cost you £2m. This is not a mansion. This is for a family with a few kids whose gran comes to stay at Christmas. Look on Zoopla - there are loads of them. If we look at similarly sized homes in Edinburgh or Glasgow, we would never consider them mansions, and we would rightly never tax the families who live in these homes as if they are multi-millionaires. If it is about the prosperity of the family, is it right to tax them based on the home they live in, which for hundreds has simply gone up in value as areas once considered unfashionable in London suddenly come on trend? A house is not always an asset, for many it is a home, and pushing up the cost of living in it to pay for Scotland's nurses does not seem fair on London to me.
It as is if living in London isn't expensive enough for hard working families and individuals. Do you want to know how expensive it is compared to "Vote Yes" Glasgow? OK here goes:
- Consumer Prices are 33.65% lower than in London
- Rents are 62.37% lower than in London
- Groceries cost 12.56% less than in London
- Local Purchasing Power in Glasgow is 16.69% higher than in London
In short, you would need around £2,720 in Glasgow to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with £4,100 in London.
London is a workhorse, one I'm proud of
So when Ebola hero, the Scottish Pauline Cafferkey, is flown down in a military plane and treated here in London - I can only feel pride. Pride for a London who with our own stretched health service, which takes care of around 3 million more people more than the whole of Scotland's must, houses so many operations from around the country. Scotland, by contrast, despite its vast (and soon to increase) budgets, is thin on specialist units - preferring to use ours and spend its money bribing its people with fee prescriptions instead.
London does not complain about this though. No, without quibbling, London welcomes heroes like Pauline and countless like her - because we, the workhorses of the United Kingdom, are benevolent, amazing inclusive and compassionate in a way that was sadly lacking from the Yes campaign's 'me me me' rhetoric.
Something, however, has to change. London needs some credit for the fact that it produces 22% of the GDP yet its workers are packed in like sardines as they travel an average of 20 minutes longer to work each day than in Scotland. Paying, incidentally, three times the price of possibly our nearest comparable city, New York for the privilege. As for the cost of commuting to work from half an hour outside London because you simply can't afford to live here anymore - forget it, this will have cost you you an average of £3396 in 2014, over £1000 higher than the rest of the UK and even higher than the £1916 in Glasgow.
I'm standing up for London, you can stand with me
I have a lot of solutions to this inequality, which I'll be releasing over the coming months. It's not all about more devolved power - it's also radical changes to the ways cash is allocated and even a shake up of our local government system... heck, not even my own Greater London Assembly would escape my scrutiny.
Please find a way of getting involved - I want to hear from you - Tweet me, message me on Facebook or sign up on my website, ivan.london
Today I'm in Edinburgh to demonstrate what I'm talking about
I am filing this article not from my capital city, but from Edinburgh where I am going to spend the day knocking on the doors of equivalent five bedroom houses in equivalent boroughs to Finchley. Take a look at this five bedroom house in Finchley.
I'm asking the owners if they'd agree to a new additional tax based on the size and relative prestige of their house (not it's actual value which is simply a 'cost of living' issue which varies from town to town). I will explain that this money will be used to help London's poorest boroughs, the housing crisis and our struggling health professionals. To be fair, we anticipate a house like this attracting a new annual tax of £20,000 to £30,000 pa, but assuring them not to worry, we can let it roll up and collect it when they sell.