London needs a mayor that can stand up to the Tories’ austerity offensive

The capital's vulnerable communities can't take much more Tory ideology

 

This weekend I was pleased to have made the shortlist for Labour’s candidate for mayor of London.

Now more than ever, London needs a truly independent minded mayor that will fight to protect our public services and stand up for our most vulnerable communities in the face of the Conservatives’ ideologically driven offensives.

Not even a month has passed since the election of the majority Conservative government, but it is safe to say that the veil has already fallen away from the party that so brazenly tried to rebrand itself as the one of working people.

Within just seven days of government, the Tories managed to draw up twelve billion pounds worth of further cuts to welfare, vow to repeal the Human Rights Act, recommend restrictions to trade unions that would make legal strikes virtually impossible, advocate the forcible return of African migrants, and propose a counter extremism bill without being able to define an extremist.

Alarmingly, the last couple of weeks have brought the news that in addition to the existing fifty thousand children in the UK that subsist below the poverty line, another forty thousand children face being plunged into poverty by government plans to lower the household benefit cap.

The effects of further austerity will be felt hardest in London, a city that houses more millionaires that any other city in the world yet has some of the highest rates of child poverty in Europe.

Cuts will only exacerbate an inequality in the capital that is spiraling rapidly out of control.

The part-time Tory mayor of London has nurtured an environment in which developers and buy-to-let landlords have been able to trample on the interests of ordinary Londoners.

Now, with a majority Conservative government, I fear for the future of our communities.

With housing associations in the capital forecasting a dramatic spike in rent arrears, evictions and homelessness, London desperately needs a mayor who will act in the best interests of Londoners rather than at the behest of party politics.

With a comprehensive vision for a more equitable London, I believe I can be that mayor.

Rent controls, fare freezes on transport, the introduction of a mandatory London Living Wage for all employers, the re-introduction of the Educational Maintenance Allowance and the imposition of higher stamp duty for non-domiciled buyers of London property are all starting points for tackling the inequality that threatens London’s future.

But just as importantly, the mayor of London can play key role in challenging the narrative emanating from both the Tories and the Labour Party that austerity is the only way.

I have a proven record in this regard, having stood up to my party on many issues throughout the years that I have believed in. I stood up against the Iraq War, Tuition Fees, ID Cards, and continued austerity. I shall be equally fearless when it comes to defending Londoners.

Austerity will decimate London’s vulnerable communities, with the worst effects of cuts to public services and reforms to welfare still to come.

The bottom line is that a city cannot continue to function if its citizens are increasingly left behind. The London I knew as a young women was a city of hope and opportunity; this is not the case for the capital’s youth today.

It is essential that the next mayor of London takes a stand against austerity and the social cleansing of our city. Without this stand, London’s future lies in the balance.

Diane Abbott is Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington. Follow her on Twitter

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