Five top tasks for the new London Mayor and Assembly

6 May 2016 - 9:00pm
Press release

London is often glorified as the centre of global finance and commerce. It is also home to 8.6 million people and is a centre of huge inequality and injustice; something the city’s new mayor, Sadiq Khan, must urgently address.

London should be a city free of tax dodgers and homelessness. It should be a place where workers’ rights are respected and people’s health and the environment is protected. From Westminster to Waltham Forest, its borough councils should be able to reject products and services which cause harm and allow Londoners a genuine say in how their city is run.

Five things the new Mayor must do to tackle inequality and injustice:

1.  Take on the tax dodgers

London is a hi-tech global finance centre and also harbours the City of London Corporation – a tax haven - at its heart. Tax evasion cost the UK government around £70bn in 2013-14. The Panama leaks on multinational tax avoidance show the key role played by banks based in London. Reducing tax evasion and avoidance would provide significant resources to fund vital public services like health, welfare and education and would remove the need for unjust austerity measures. 

Action - The Mayor must make the city of London a centre for sustainable finance which ensures finance is used to meet human need not corporate greed. Key to this will be: cracking down on London’s role in global corruption and tax dodging; tackling the City’s role in growing inequality for instance by supporting the Robin Hood Tax on financial transactions; and advocating strong international rules that promote tax justice.

2.  Ensure decent, affordable housing for all Londoners

Poor and marginalised people living in social housing are being forced out of London as their homes are sold off at market prices. Newly built houses are snapped up as an investment vehicle not homes to live in. Yet everyone has the right to live in the city: the right to access, occupy and use urban space. This right of access should not be determined by wealth and private interests.

Action - Truly affordable homes must be built for Londoners to rent and buy. Private developers and wealthy individuals must not be given greater power to determine which areas they want to gentrify.

3.  TTIP free London

As recent leaks have confirmed, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a secretly negotiated EU-US trade deal, is the biggest threat to democracy in a generation. At risk are our most prized health, social and environmental rules, the privatisation of our public services and new powers for big business to sue our government in a private justice system for any policies affecting their profits. Under TTIP, we could never have a green London and the NHS will be lost forever. Local authorities across the country are passing motions against TTIP as they fear the impact of this toxic trade deal. There has been no assessment of the deal’s impact on London, and the only government assessment has revealed many risks to the UK but “few or no benefits”.

Action - The new London Mayor must declare London a TTIP Free Zone. He must work to stop this dodgy deal and oppose the similarly damaging EU-Canada deal, CETA, currently being finalised.  

4.  Back the BDS movement to ensure London rejects oppression

Attempts are being made by central government and others to clamp down on the grassroots Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement which aims to end government and corporate complicity in Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights. These attempts threaten local democracy by removing powers from councils.

Action - The new Mayor and Assembly must publicly declare support for the rights of campaigners to use BDS tactics, and take steps to ensure all London local procurement and pension investments steer clear of the arms trade and firms complicit in Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights.

5.  Give everyone a say 

London has become far too compliant to the demands of corporations and elites on issues that affect all Londoners, such as on development and planning. Everyone should have a say in how London develops and how our communities, schools, hospitals and transport systems are run.

Action - The Mayor must initiate a new Right to the City policy for London where everyone has a right to shape it and design it, to deliver an urban agenda that puts people first not corporate elites and the rich.

London has the focus here given its huge size and impact. Across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland new mayors, parliamentarians, assembly members and councillors have the opportunity to implement many of these policies. This will ensure justice and equality are promoted at the heart of democratic decision making in regional and local government. 

 

 

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