I believe the Green Party has come of age. We are emerging from a General Election in which we achieved our best result ever. The Green Party has 12,000 members across London, and we are looking to build on the third place we achieved in 2012.
Greens certainly have momentum. But as previous Mayoral contests have shown, to make a real impact, a candidate needs to win the widespread trust of Londoners. And that means reaching out to everyone with a 32 borough strategy.
I love London. I was born here, and my own children were born here. And I know that for every Londoner that wants radical change, another wants security. For every person who wants more equal pay, there is one who wants a safer neighbourhood.
I also know that there are limits to what the Mayor can do. Many candidates will overclaim on what they can deliver for the capital and end up disappointing.
I owe a huge debt to outgoing London Assembly members Darren Johnson and Jenny Jones for their steady hand. Just look at what they’ve achieved for London, notably pushing forward in important areas of air quality, housing, cycling and congestion. Not to mention putting a spotlight on aggressive stop and search.
But now it is now time for a new generation of Green leadership at City Hall. And Greens need to show maturity, or we risk losing much of the good that has been achieved. We must not promise the earth. The Greens must not be a party of protest. Nor can we focus solely on traditional ‘green’ issues. The 2016 election won’t be a referendum on air quality or climate change.
Next year’s election will be about the kind of city we want London to be. To show that the Green Party really has come of age, we must move out of our comfort zone and show that we have a credible offer for every Londoner.
London needs a Mayor who has a plan to rebalance London’s economy. I want a transition from big business to small, from the national to the local, from dependence on financial services to growth in digital, engineering and green high-tech manufacturing industries, from low paid insecure jobs to good jobs Londoners can build a life on.
I also believe London needs a Mayor’s housing commission to look at every aspect of our housing crisis, including bringing forward proposals to make tenancies more secure. We need a realistic ‘Living Rent’ level and to use practical ideas such as Community Land Trusts to make housing truly affordable.
I want to work with London Citizens to expand our network of ‘Safe Havens’ across London. There should be a Safe Haven every 100 metres on every high street, where young people in trouble know they can go for protection.
Poorer Londoners need an expansion in concessionary travel to support them through ongoing austerity. The downward spiral in relationships between TfL and the unions has to end and be reversed. As Mayor, I will look at ways of giving the unions a bigger say in shaping transport in London, such as inviting them to sit on the board of TfL.
New Londoners coming from the rest of Britain and overseas must have access to the same opportunities as every other Londoner. There are pressures but it is up to the Mayor’s office to develop creative solutions to fix the problems we share as a city.
And yes, we need to tackle the congestion on our roads and the poor air quality. We need decision-making which prioritises walking and cycling. But we also need a rapid expansion of the electric vehicle charging network, and conversion of London’s taxi fleet, as well as looking seriously at a fairer road pricing scheme for the capital in the longer term.
Greens must seize the moment. Greens must build a visible campaign in every borough and have a practical offer for every Londoner.
Jonathan Bartley is the Green Party’s Work and Pension’s Spokesperson and is standing to be the Party’s 2016 candidate for Mayor and London Assembly. Follow him at @jon_bartley and at jonathanbartley.london