Exclusive interview: Lib Dem London mayoral candidate on Met reform and suing the Home Office 

Rob Blackie on rebuilding relationships between the police and community, and putting solar panels on London’s roofs

Rob Blackie Liberal Democrat London mayoral candidate crime

The Liberal Democrat candidate for London Mayor, Rob Blackie, has put fixing the Metropolitan Police as his central focus for London whilst promising to stand up for the capital’s EU citizens. 

Brexit has been a complete disaster for Londoners, Rob Blackie said as he laid out his plan to introduce a ‘London passport’ and sue the Home Office, should he become mayor. 

The Lib Dem candidate and anti-Brexit campaigner told LFF he would introduce a passport scheme which would provide undocumented London residents with the means to prove they have a right to stay in the city. Secondly the mayoral hopeful said his team would take legal action on their behalf against the Home Office. 

“One of the more subtle disasters from Brexit has been it just makes London and Britain seem less welcoming,” Blackie told LFF from his home near Brixton. “The mayor can’t fix all of that but one thing you can do is say to London’s EU citizens, I’ll stand up for you when you have problems.”

Describing the Home Office as both “incompetent” and “institutionally feral”, he argued that the vast majority of cases he would bring against the department would be won, based on the department’s current track record he said of “messing up or being unreasonable”.

Solar panels on London’s roofs

As a former strategist for the anti-Brexit campaign Best for Britain, his staunch Remain views ring out in his mayoral pledges to lobby for London’s EU citizens. As does his current non-political work for environmental start-ups, which has influenced putting climate change high on his agenda. 

“What I’m really optimistic about in London is the ability to tackle climate change in ways that save people money,” he said. 

“I’d like to see London getting more solar on roofs, because it provides electricity so incredibly cheaply. There’s a huge opportunity to do things like that now which, rather than costing huge amounts of money, can actually make the government money.”

The Lib Dem candidate, who’s first role with the party was in 1999 as director of research for the late Charles Kennedy, claimed one issue holding back green investment was Britain’s approach to the private sector.  

“One of the problems often in Britain is that the public sector has been a bit naive about the private sector. 

“It’s there to make money which can be very good if you have the right contracts, good monitoring and have commercially savvy people working in politics, and I think that’s one of the challenges we sometimes have.”

Tackling crime

But it is for crime reform that Rob Blackie would wish to be remembered as London mayor. His “do or die” would be to tackle the “appalling failures” around sexual offence charges in London, as he claimed convictions have halved since 2016. 

He quoted a particular comment which stood out for him from a police officer in the 2023 Casey report – “if you look at the Met’s performance on rape and sexual offences, convictions are so low they may as well be legal in London”.

Rebuilding the relationship between police and the community is one way Blackie would go about tackling crime, as he highlighted the damage stop and search has had on police and community relations. 

Therefore has pledged to reduce police time on low-level crimes such as stopping and searching young people for cannabis, which he said is a “huge waste of time” that disproportionately affects black Londoners. 

A focus on investing in basic police resources, such as freezers to store forensic samples along with better basic management would be a “cheap fix” which Blackie said would go a long way in improving police time and efficiency. 

Funding for his plans would come from removing the freeze on Tube single fares, which he claimed would redirect between 80-100 million pounds to getting more police on the frontline.

Tory’s campaign of “outright lies”

Commenting on the Tories London mayoral election campaigning so far, Blackie, who ran in 2012 as the London Assembly candidate for Lambeth and Southwark, said it was rare to see a campaign that puts out “an outright lie”. 

“The whole thing about ulez was just an outright lie, it’s quite rare to see a campaign that outwardly puts out an outright lie rather than things that are a bit misleading,” he said.

“I think the Conservatives are quite nervous about their campaign and when you look at what they’re saying, they are appealing to the most conservative, they’re not appealing to mainstream London.” 

Commenting on Sadiq Khan’s campaign so far Blackie claimed it has “said extraordinarily little about the mayor’s actual record”.

“For somebody who’s been in power for 8 years now, particularly on crime, he’s said essentially very little. Most of his campaign has been about appealing to tactical votes or stuff that he will do after the election,” said Blackie.

This May will be the first time the London mayoral contest will switch to a first past the post voting system, which has led to concern from Sadiq Khan about progressives voting for smaller parties. 

But Rob Blackie said Londoners should vote for him if they take a “liberal approach to cutting crime” and over a combination of “knowing the Conservatives aren’t going to win” and “disappointment in the current mayor”.

Image credit: Andrew King / Liberal Democrats

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues

Comments are closed.