The race to be Mayor: Boris vs. Ken
On the eve of the London Mayoral Election, Elgan Alderman and Adam Robertson pit the two leading candidates against each other
Pro-Boris Johnson by Elgan Alderman
Alexander Boris De Pfeffel Johnson should be the next Mayor of London. Do I hear you spit out your morning cup of tea? Yes – his middle name really is De Pfeffel. Boris Johnson is a political diamond; a charismatic mayor in an era of wet rag politicians. Whilst his television appearances and sound bites are legendary, Boris Johnson does not receive the credit he deserves as an excellent politician, and an excellent Mayor of London.
During his tenure we have seen the introduction of an alcohol ban on public transport; the building of The Orbit – a 115m-high sculpture adjacent to the Olympic Stadium; the revival of the Routemaster bus; the ‘decluttering’ of London’s major roads; drastically reducing waste in City Hall; perhaps his most lasting legacy – the ‘Boris Bike’. It is rare now for a citizen to walk through London and not see a ‘Boris Bike’ wherever they look, such has been the popularity of the scheme. Boris Johnson has resisted pursuing the policies of the former Mayor, Ken Livingstone, whose aim appeared to be spend a bit, then spend some more – much like the New Labour policies we all “knew and loved”.
In the last three and a half years we have also seen a rise in the number of policemen on our streets, and crime levels have decreased by 10.8%. This coming summer will herald the arrival of the Summer Olympics at the gates of London – a showcase of London to the world and an event that will unite our country, creating a lasting legacy (sustainability) of the Games, with better facilities and increased participation from children and teenagers.
If none of this political jargon has swayed your vote, then let us remember that Boris Johnson is more a man of the people than any of the politicians of our time. On November 2nd 2009, the Mayor was cycling past when Franny Armstrong – a Ken Livingstone supporter – was pushed against a car by a group of girls in a mugging attempt. The Mayor uttered the immortal line, “Clear off you oiks!” He then proceeded to chase the aforementioned “oiks” away, before returning to walk Armstrong home. This act of chivalrous rescue is eternal proof that Boris Johnson is a Mayor who has the interests of the people of London firmly ingrained in his heart. He wants to “bring out the very best in London – helping its companies to grow, its communities to thrive, and its people to prosper”.
Vote Boris Johnson for London Mayor.
P.S. He pays his taxes too.
Pro-Ken Livingstone by Adam Robertson
Getting a bit repetitive this London mayor thing, isn’t it. Frustratingly, I moved out of London the year before I was eligible to vote, so my only contact with the saga of Boris and Ken is as a spectator. But were my house to be torn from its foundations by a violent tornado (we have a lot of those in Kent…) and dropped about five hundred yards to the right, I would be voting for Ken, and not just because I am a cliché of a bourgeois social democrat (my home may be in Kent, but my heart lies in Islington).
The first reason is personality. This campaign, more than any I can think of in recent memory (which is saying something), has been reduced to a bit of a popularity contest, which is not the recommended way to elect an official with a budget of £14.6 billion. However, in spite of Boris’ boyish, Etonian charm and slick media persona – as well as some questionable comments made by Livingstone – Ken wins it here for me.
I see the election as a being between a long term servant of local government in London (most of whose political career has been committed to the city) and a journalist who is using the office of mayor as a springboard to backstab Cameron when everyone suddenly wakes up and realises that his government is oscillating wildly between hopeless incompetence and callous malignancy. No contest.
But let us get old-fashioned for a moment and talk about policy. Firstly, Ken is planning on cutting public transport fares and preventing future above-inflation rises, while Boris plans on raising fares by 2% above inflation if he gets back in. Ordinary people have more affordable transport with Ken.
Secondly, and my personal favourite, Ken is planning on reintroducing the Educational Maintenance Allowance, which was idiotically cut by the government last year. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has described the policy as significantly increasing the proportion 16 – 18 year olds staying in school, significantly increasing the attainment of those receiving it, and as being an efficient use of taxpayers’ money. In a city whose youth feel that they have such a small stake in society that they decided to burn half the city last summer, a policy which allows as many teenagers as possible to stay in education for as long as possible can only be a good thing. Kudos to Ken for bringing it back.
He is also proposing an energy cooperative to bring down the household bills of Londoners, and a not-for-profit lettings agency to bring rents down. All Boris seems to be able to offer is a council tax cut and efficiencies at City Hall.
Ken genuinely believes in making London a better city for its most vulnerable inhabitants. Boris is just more of the same cuts and has nothing positive to offer.
Regardless of your personal feelings for Ken, once you’ve seen past Boris’ foppish hair there really is only one horse that deserves to win this race.
Opinion poll of Durham students on who they will (or would, if they lived in London) vote for in the 2012 London Mayoral Election (data on 02/05/12):
Image of Boris Johnson from BackBoris2012 on Flickr. Image of Ken Livingstone from Amplified2010 on Flickr.