London is the greatest city in the world with the Mayoralty sitting at the apex of its government and a clear mission to serve 8.6 million residents.
Some might view it as a sunset gig after a career as an MP, or a way out after tiring of day-to-day life as a backbencher; others might see it as an opportunity to add to their celebrity.
But as a born-and-bred Londoner, who has spent more than a decade in the engine-room of London government at both Town Hall and City Hall, I am absolutely clear that the Mayoralty is all about delivery for Londoners. It is the only job that I want in politics.
And I will deliver.
My track record is all about improving public services while making them less expensive for people.
As Council Leader in Hammersmith and Fulham, I cut council tax five years out of six from 2007, bringing it down from one of the highest in the country to the third lowest. I brought the council’s debt to below £100m for the first time in more than 25 years. At the same time, residents’ satisfaction with council services rose to an all-time high.
And as Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, I have helped the Met Police make £600m savings, whilst ensuring more money is spent on front-line policing with 2,600 extra officers put in neighbourhoods. This has led to a 20 per cent fall in victim-based crime over three years and public confidence in the police has also risen.
My Mayoral pledges all hinge around that key theme of delivering better public services that cost people less. London has become too expensive for those on middle and low incomes, who are so often the people who keep our great city alive: teachers, police officers, nurses and firefighters.
That is why I have promised to reduce Travelcard and Tube fares across the board by three per cent every year I am Mayor. As an example, Londoners will save more than £900 on an annual Zone 1-3 Travelcard over four years. People say it can’t be done – it can.
Thanks to Boris’ investment, the Tube network is better than ever, with extra capacity created and improved services. That means fares can now be reduced, by cutting waste from Transport for London – overhauling back-office functions and slashing non-operating costs – and introducing cost-effective technologies more quickly.
Housing will be a key battleground in the Mayoral election. I will build on Boris’s record of 87,000 new affordable homes since 2008 and the fast-tracking of 20,000 additional homes through nine new Housing Zones. Under my Mayoralty, there will be 50,000 new affordable homes over four years for essential city workers.
I will instigate a home ownership revolution, with thousands of new homes reserved for Londoners to buy – only those who have lived or worked in the capital for at least three years will be able to buy new homes built on public land.
Again, anyone who doubts whether these pledges will become a reality should look at my record – in Hammersmith and Fulham, I created a dedicated Home Buy Unit for first-time buyers and key workers, and built more than four times as many low-cost homes to buy than my Labour predecessors had over the previous six years.
On public safety, under Boris’s leadership – and with me as Deputy Mayor for Policing – London crime is at an historic low. As Mayor, I will guarantee 5,000 officers in neighbourhood teams, and I will create a new “super control room” covering the three emergency services where all 999 calls will be routed, creating a quicker, more agile response service and saving money to be re-invested in the frontline.
Many people look at the General Election result, in which Labour performed better in London than nationally, and think the Mayoralty is Labour’s to lose. But Boris won in 2008 when there were fewer Conservative MPs in London than now.
And as someone who won Hammersmith and Fulham against the odds in 2006 – the first time the party had taken the council in almost 40 years – and then retained it in 2010 with a large majority, I know I can win London for the Tories again next year.
My parents taught me to fight for every opportunity and instilled a real passion for public service. My dad was the first person in his family to go to university and he went on to became a world-class vascular surgeon in the NHS. My Austrian mother was a state school teacher who was expelled as a little girl from what had by then become Czechoslovakia and had to beg for food.
And now I’m fighting for this opportunity to be Mayor of London – serving the wonderful people of London, and giving them opportunity, would be the best job in the world for me.