London needs a Mayor with policies and personality

Jason Stockwood
  • By Jason Stockwood
    Chief Executive Officer
  • 2 May 2012

Tomorrow Londoners will vote in a hotly contested Mayoral election.

The outcome will have significant implications for individuals and businesses not just in London but around the country. At such a pivotal moment for the British economy, it matters a great deal who is at the helm in the capital. Londoners’ decision tomorrow will impact on us all.

But the importance of the event has not yet been reflected in the candidates’ behaviour. You could be forgiven for thinking that we are watching a pantomime rather than an election campaign. The candidates have been out in earnest for some weeks now, but there have been woefully few concrete policy suggestions. In their place we have been subjected to an endless series of set-piece fights between Boris and Ken, such that the race has now been reduced to little more than a very expensive soap opera.

The country cannot afford this Punch and Judy politics. We need maturity and vision if we are to successfully navigate the choppy economic waters.

In an effort to refocus the debate, we have compiled the five main candidates’ most attractive pledges into a single ‘manifesto for business’. We aim to illustrate the convergences and the differences in the candidates’ individual manifestos, and to underscore the fact that the race should be about politics as much as it is about personality.

Crucially, though, politics and personality must learn to co-exist. The next Mayor will find themselves faced with a series of daunting tasks. They will be the face of London as the capital welcomes the world – not only during the Olympics and Paralympics, but throughout their term in office as businesses seek to build important trade links. They must also become a figurehead for a city in flux; a trusted individual who Londoners can be sure will act with integrity, regardless of political affiliation.

We do not seek to remove personality from politics. The Mayor must be a figure around whom Londoners can coalesce, and this requires charisma. But voters deserve more credit than they are being given. We need believable personalities, but not at the expense of coherent policies. Whoever wins on Thursday must be prepared to deliver both.