By Roger Tichborne,
Firstly, let me quickly brief those of you unfamiliar with my back story on where I stand politically. I was a Labour Party member from 1981 until 2009. Under Blair then Brown, I completely lost faith in the organisation that is the Labour Party. I have total respect for the ordinary members, but the people in control of the party have no regard for them. The Labour govt of 1997-2010 had a huge majority and could have done many things that myself and all of the members would have fully supported. Electoral reform, abolishing the House of Lords, renationalising British Rail, giving the UK a proper constitution are just a few of the open goals they missed. The sleaze of Mandelson, the illiberal home office regime of Alan Johnson, the lies of the Iraq war all contributed. I was persuaded to join the Lib Dems, to try and maintain a presence in Mill Hill, where the Lib Dems had councillors from 1994-2010. I stood as a councillor, didn't win and when the coalition was announced was very pleased. I didn't sign up to prop up a Tory government lead by David Cameron. I left the party after a year, with no fuss. I just couldn't support Nick Cleggs party as they imposed austerity on the nation.
I felt homeless. In the May 2016 Mayoral election, I was not a member of any party, but I supported Sadiq Khan, as I was appalled by the racism of Zak Goldsmith and felt that it was important to take a stand. I delivered leaflets for Khan, although not being a member. In June 2016, the UK voted for #Brexit. I felt that this was a terrible mistake. To my horror, Labour took no stand. Only the Lib Dems took a positive anti #Brexit stand. Some people have claimed that opposing #Brexit after a referendum is anti democratic, but I believe that in a democracy, we have the right to change our mind, especially if it is clear the public have been mislead. The #Brexit campaign was based on a whole stack of lies. I rejoined the Lib Dems as they were organised to oppose Brexit.
Over the five years of Sadiq Khan's Mayoralty, it is clear to me that he is not the man I had hoped. He is a divisive figure. He has a deep loathing of all things Conservative. As the London Borough of Barnet has a Conservative council, Khan has wasted no opportunity to give the Tories a kicking. Sadly this has been at the expense of the ordinary residents. Controversial and unpopular developments such as Pentavia and the NIMR were passed in the teeth of local opposition. It was clear that this was payback for the idiotic local Tories passing a motion calling Sadiq Khan an 'enemy of the people'. As someone who cares passionately about my manor, I could not possibly support a Mayor who has no regard for the ordinary people of Barnet. Khan's antagonistic approach to politics has resulted in him being at loggerheads with the Tories. He claims it is standing up for London, but in truth he's simpy grandstanding for the Labour party faithful. I know that Boris would never give a Labour Mayor an easy time, but Khan has made it inevitable that London will get as raw a deal as possible.
Perhaps the worst indictment on Sadiq Khan is that under his tenure, London saw one of the worst disasters in living memory. When Grenfell Tower burnt down, London was shocked. Four years later, thousands of Londoners are still living in death trap towers. Many leaseholders are stuck in flats that have massive repair bills, are unsellable and are unsafe. Khan hasn't done a thing for them. He comes out with the odd platitude, but clearly doesn't care. For us in the Borough of Barnet, this is a massive problem. Buildings such as Premier House in Edgware are still clad in deathtrap panels. What will it take for something to be done in London. I shudder to think.
As for Shaun Bailey, I've listened to a couple of debates, most recently last night on BBC Radio London. The harsh truth is that he's a lightweight, who has no real ideas. He seems to have discovered a magic money tree. He's promising 10,000 extra police, reopening of countless police stations and a shared ownership property scheme. Having stated that Khan had bankrupted TFL's finances, my jaw hit the floor when he said he'd pay for this with a raid on TFL's finances. Apparently there's half a billion quid he's going to nick from TFL in unused Oyster card balances. Bailey has failed to give a single credible reason to vote for him. As for the Tories attitude to the Cladding scandal, Boris whpped his MP's to deny leaseholders justice. I cannot believe any fair minded Londoner would vote for them.
So who will I vote for. As a Lib Dem, it won't surprise you to hear that I will be supporting Luisa Porritt for Mayor. I'd urge you to have a proper look at her policies at her website - https://www.luisa4london.co.uk/ - Luisa's four main policies are Jobs, Homes, Clean Air and Policing. She has performed well in the few debates she's been allowed to participate in.
My second preference will go to the Green candidate Sian Berry. Like Luisa, she has done well in the few debates she's been allowed to participate in. I was actually quite outraged by the patronising tone of Sadiq Khan towards her in one debate. He thanked her for her support on several initiatives, then said "I'd urge all green voters to give me their first vote and Sian their second preference". To me this was disprespectful to both Sian and Green voters. There is no electoral reason for not giving Berry their first vote. I think that the Greens are a force for good in London and the UK and they have a huge role to play in keeping environmental issues on the agenda.
This will be the sixth Mayoral Election. Ken Livingstone won the first as an Independent, so there is no reason why the Mayor has to be a Tory or a Labour candidate. We have never had a female Mayor. To their shame, neither big Party has bothered to pick a female candidate. It seems to me to be a total no brainer that a Lib Dem or Green Mayor would do better than either Khan or Bailey. They would have to build a consensus and would have to work with all sides. People keep saying to me that they would vote for Porritt or Berry but it would be a wasted vote. This is not true. Give them your first preference if you think they are the best candidate. You have a second preference vote that you can give to another candidate if they are not in the top two. Use this wisely. I genuinely believe that if Londoners voted for who they really wanted, we'd get what we wanted, rather than someone who clearly isn't up to the job.
I will be giving Luisa Porritt my first vote and Sian Berry my second. I want to send a message to the BBC and everyone else that they should be getting proper airtime and inclusion in debates. Whoever you vote for, please use your vote and use it wisely. I have sat down, done a lot of soul searching and write this with a heavy heart. Please do the same. Please don't simply vote for the bloke that isn't the other bloke. The Mayor has real power to change things and make them better. Has the current incumbent done that? Will the person you want to vote for do that? Make sure you are happy that you can say yes to these questions before putting your X next to them.
Roger Tichborne is the Liberal Democrat Candidate for Edgware Ward in the May 6th By Election. Roger has run Mill Hill Music Complex sudios since 1979. He attended Orange Hill School and as a teenager lived in Warwick Avenue, in Broadfields.
This article was published and promoted by Roger Tichborne on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, 29 Millway, London, NW7 3QR