London is divided. Politics, the media and Brexit continue to divide us. Our current Mayor and his Labour party seem to thrive on deepening those divisions. We need a OneLondon vision behind which all Londoners can unite. The vision needs to support London as a global city, but recognise that London is a series of communities and the strength of those communities is what makes OneLondon unique. A divided London is a weak London, OneLondon is a Conservative London.
“There is no such thing as London unless you recognise it is made up of Boroughs and communities”
I am a Londoner and I live in Kingston upon Thames, in my part of South West London and a place where some don’t even think they live in London. I want us to talk about the way London needs to change and adapt to growth and social change.
My Dads family are from the East End and he was born to the sound of Bow bells where his family ran a grocers. He spent his working life as a Met Police Officer. My Mum’s family lived in South West London in the same house for over sixty years, the place where I was born.
I live in Kingston with my family. When I was 7 I started singing and by 10 I was on the West End stage – I played Oliver. I continued my singing training although today it is a hobby. I went to what Tony Blair’s spin doctor called a “bog-standard comprehensive”, but did OK because it taught me that success is something you can make happen yourself, it’s not all luck.
Even with my family’s past, I know that London has changed and that being a Londoner does not mean you have to be born here. A Londoner embraces the city, cherishes its history, loves its diversity and should be proud of what the city does for the people who live here.
I’m honest and direct about the problems London needs to solve and that reflects the chief thing I hear on doorsteps that “politicians are not straight with us”. You can’t expect people to support change if you’re not honest about it.
As Leader I turned around a Council that was failing and attracted new investment, transformed its budget, froze Council Tax, built homes, raised support for major infrastructure and changed the minds of Government on serious issues such as devolving business rates, NHS reform or taking more Syrian refugees.
In London I have worked closely with two Mayors on regeneration and led for London on health where we set a target to eliminate HIV by signing the UN Global health initiative. I know how London works and I know the importance of the Boroughs and the Assembly in running London. With the right team I know I can win and turn London around.
Growing business, building homes, supporting the vulnerable, these are the hallmarks of the modern London Conservative I strive to be.