Londoners no doubt will be aware that shortly they will be asked to put their tick on a ballot paper to elect the next Mayor of London. Ken Livingstone was of course the very first elected Mayor of London in 2000. In 2008 the bungling blonde aristocrat Boris Johnson swept into power and became London’s second only elected mayor.
So what should you make of the record of Ken versus that of Boris as it applies to our community? In order to get a comparative view that might be useful in your decision making, in this article I will ask both Boris and Ken to respond truthfully, their responses to a series of simple questions. I will not make it too hard, but certainly it will allow both camps to consider their responses before they revert back to me. And what will I do with their responses? Well folks, you the public deserve to know what they said. You can make up your own minds in terms of who responds properly.
So let’s just have a very brief look at both candidates (I concentrate only on these two given one of them looks likely to secure the Mayoral position).
Ken Livingstone is Labour to the core. He was the leader of the Greater London Council (GLC) in the 80’s when Margaret Thatcher made many attempts to have him silenced. Eventually the GLC was dissolved in 1986, and with that went an era of total domination by Ken and the left wing of the Labour Party over London. Ken is a true Londoner, born in Lambeth in a working class family, educated in London Schools, worked in London, and he was even at one time the MP for Brent East. Most people would say Ken is a Socialist in its true sense.
Boris Johnson is Tory to the core. He was the MP for Henley, and professionally a journalist who also edited the ‘Spectator’. Boris was educated at Eton and has family connections with various royal families in Europe. As I understand it, even David Cameron is his 8th cousin. Boris is a complicated fellow with a mix that involves the Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths. He is married to Marina Wheeler, daughter of a Sikh lady by the name of Dip Singh who was married to the renowned journalist Sir Charles Wheeler. Their children therefore now have not only Abrahamic ties, but add to that, Sikh values by virtue of their mother.
So what does this all mean? Nothing, in short. It is merely a simple snap shot as seen by one person in one moment whilst writing this column. What you the voters have to do is get behind the headlines, the rhetoric and the plentiful platitudes offered and ask yourself – ‘who do you trust to do the right thing for London, and Londoners?’ And in so doing, you should seek out supporting evidence so that you do not make an error when casting your vote.
So these are my questions to both Boris and Ken:
1. Name five initiatives that you have introduced whereby the Indic community (Hindus, Sikhs, Jains & Buddhists) have secured real practical assistance that is culturally (and faith based) sensitive to their requirements?
2. For the time when you were in power, what amount (proportion) of the London budget was directed towards the Indic communities (Please give figures by year)?
3. Given that we still do not have a culturally sensitive crematorium for people of Indic faiths in London, can you guarantee that in your next term as Mayor, this will become a practical reality?
4. In your time as Mayor, can you indicate for each of the years, the number (and proportion) of people of Indic backgrounds that held a 1st or 2nd tier position within the organisation?
5. If you are elected, name five new initiatives you will embark on that will specifically target the needs and requirements of the Indic community?
6. What should DOW do to take full responsibility for Bhopal?
My advice to Boris, Ken and both their camps is simple. Your responses should actually answer the questions with great care, detail and without the norms of political rhetoric. You will be judged by the community, and it does have the power to put one of you in that Mayoral seat. You have until the end of this month, March, to put forward your responses to me via Asian Voice.
The voting from our community has been rather pathetic in the past, but know this; you do hold the key to who actually takes control of London. If you the people don’t get off your backsides come May and vote, then let us be clear – do you really deserve the right to complain thereafter. Democracy is a contract between the citizen and the state, and we must all play our part to make the system work.