Policing in the capital becomes central issue in Mayor of London campaign
After the Brexit referendum and the subsequent general elections, which saw three Prime Ministers in almost as many years, the British public have become weary, and wary, about ballot boxes.
However, in May, Londoners will be called upon to exercise their democratic right once again in the election for London Mayor.
The campaigning has now started with a vengeance, with incumbent Sadiq Khan(pictured above), Liberal Democrat contender Siobhan Benita, and now Conservative Shaun Bailey all making their pitch.
Of course, everyone is aware that the last Tory to hold the position is now resident in 10, Downing St and many would argue it was his success in the capital that launched his stellar Westminster career.
However, it seems that the focus of all the candidates this time is on policing, the demise of which many claim was the fault of austerity policies by Johnson’s colleagues and also by him when Mayor.
In fact Sadiq Khan referenced Boris’ cuts in 2017 as the root cause for the closure of 37 out of 73 police stations in London Boroughs.
It was argued that £8 million was taken out of the public purse to enable these changes, something which Tory candidate Shaun Bailey will find almost impossible to defend.
However, the ex-youth worker, who is hoping to use his past profession as an inroad into drug-abuse, gangland culture and knife crime claims the a “bloated” City Hall is responsible for the shortage of funds, which could fund a minimum of two police stations per borough.
This year’s candidates, including Independent Rory Stewart, are all pointing at Khan for the policing shortages, although he will be mounting a vehement campaign in return, to put the blame squarely at the feet of the Tory administration.
Shaun Bailey claims he will re-open 38 police stations the moment he is elected, but then he is also proposing that London should host the Olympics again in 2020.
Crime, punishment and lawlessness are certainly going to spark a lot of debate in the coming weeks, with Londoners happy to see that policing is high on the mayoral candidates’ agendas. However, with all concerned advocating that police station should be re-opened across the capital, it will be a question of who voters will believe will actually deliver.
Rory Stewart is the only white face among the four top candidates, and so many might believe he does not represent London’s diverse ethnicity but his profile was so heightened by the Tory leadership race, and the fact that he has positioned himself as a Johnson-sceptic, makes him actually in with a real chance of success. Stewart is yet to disclose his proposals for London’s policing, but you can be sure they are on the horizon as we speak.