NEWSLETTER - By Andy Jalil -
While the voting in the local (provincial) election went overwhelmingly in favour of the Labour Party as they gained hundreds of seats on the councils at the expense of the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, the post of the mayor of London, a crucial position in the capital city, has remained with the Conservative incumbent, Boris Johnson.
It was a close run race with Johnson securing 51.55 per cent of the votes, just 3 per cent more than Labour’s Ken Livingston. The jubilant winner said: “I will dedicate myself to making sure that Londoners are ready to take the jobs that this amazing city generates.”
In these hard economic times in the UK and with unemployment high, the policies and maverick personality of Johnson made the difference. Apart from making law and order and the control of crime and violence a priority, he understands the importance and needs of private firms, entrepreneurs and the financial district in generating jobs and prosperity.
The unemployment figure in London, a city of eight million, remains far lower than other parts of the country, in proportion to the population. Johnson is committed to appoint a deputy mayor specifically for the economy who will be responsible for promoting jobs and growth as the country struggles to pull itself out of the first double-dip recession in 37 years.
The move has been welcomed by large companies and a variety of businesses. Ever the optimistic and pro-growth, with a positive approach to opportunities for the people, he projects in his light-hearted manner, a marked contrast to his very dour rival. During his four-year term in office, Johnson has shown he was a good steward of taxpayers’ money. He rightly froze the council tax over the past three years and wants to cut it by ten per cent over the next four years.
By contrast, Livingston appears to be class conscious, divisive and has an attitude that brings negativity. The public are aware of the mistakes the banks made at the time of the credit crunch and the irresponsible lending by them.
But one has to look ahead instead of dwelling in a bygone era. He might like to joke that we should “hang a banker a week until the other improves” but it begins to wear thin and harping on such references to the past no longer seem funny.
There are, after all, hundreds of thousands who work in financial services, banks and wealth management as well as in related industries, such as, accounting, law, recruiting, IT, consulting and various other services.
The one attractive pledge of Livingston was to cut the price of public transport which had been soaring. But he could only have done that at the cost of cutting investment in other areas. This has happened in the past with governments cutting back on capital spending and using the funds on increasing benefits, among them unemployment benefit which has so often encouraged people to sign on the dole rather than look for work.
It is also imperative in these times that there is co-operation and level-headed negotiation to see that the capital city gets the best deal rather than create division at every issue and have an anti-coalition attitude. Conceding defeat, Livingston said: “This is the defeat I most regret,” adding, “this is my last election.” In contrast, Johnson’s victory further strengthens his powerful position within the Conservative Party.