We’ve had Greens in City Hall since 2000 when the Assembly and Mayor were first created, and our party’s record is incredible. A decisive reason London has Living Wage employers and any kind of half decent record on cycling is down to the campaigns and actions of Greens in City Hall, doing things like saving the cycling budget and ensuring the Living Wage Unit was created.
The impact of estate regeneration schemes on Londoners – one of the fiercest issues in London politics – was exposed and measured by Green AM Darren Johnson in 2016. This was a huge step in helping residents on threatened estates link up their battles and show the bigger picture of destruction and social cleansing across our city.
In 2016 I was our candidate for Mayor and was able to tie this record of success together with a platform of brand new ideas that inspired our most successful campaign ever – opening up the gap between us and the Lib Dems, cementing our third place and saving our deposit for the first time.
Some of these ideas we’ve already turned into Mayoral policy, even though they weren’t in Sadiq Khan’s manifesto. Other ideas he hasn’t taken up – such as flattening tube fares to be fairer to outer Londoners and closing City Airport to build new homes – were so good and memorable that Londoners are to this day bringing them up at events like People’s Question Time, much to his embarrassment.
Today I’m asking for your vote again to be the Green Party candidate to fight for the Mayoralty in 2020. London is more than ready for a woman as Mayor and it should be a Green woman with the best ideas, and our party’s track record of speaking up for forgotten Londoners and winning change. We’re already ahead of our 2016 position in a recent poll that named me as our candidate. With me representing us, we already have a head start and I hope you’ll put your faith in me again.
Getting things done as an Assembly Member depends so much on teamwork. Since we were elected together as Green AMs in 2016, I couldn’t have had a better colleague than Caroline Russell. When we first moved into City Hall, we sat down with our manifesto and made a strategic plan to gather evidence, work with campaigners and citizens to push for new ideas, and get as many of these policies as we could working for Londoners. We set out to use the power we had to bring new voices into debates and challenge business as usual with the right questions and scrutiny, so that our ideas could win through even though we weren’t the Mayor.
We’ve had more success than we thought possible. We’ve got Sadiq Khan to u-turn on his policies for estates and give ballots to thousands of residents whose homes are threatened with demolition.
My work exposing cuts to youth services, along with taking that evidence to him at every opportunity, made it impossible for the Mayor to spend a business rates windfall last year on anything else. The £45 million Young Londoners Fund is now being spent on supporting youth work that, in a huge false economy, had suffered biting cuts since 2011, and the Mayor has taken up calls for a public health approach to violence that we have been making for years.
We’ve brought the Assembly and Mayor behind a People’s Vote on Brexit despite Labour’s national wobbles on this issue. Our motion asking London to declare a climate emergency has won new urgency for this most vital and existential of problems, and we’ll be pushing for real money to go into rewriting the Mayor’s climate plans in the upcoming budget.
And we’ve called him out when he’s failed too – exposing slow progress on cycling and housing, his broken promise to set up a real green energy company, his support for Gatwick expansion, his lack of attention to civil liberties and police discrimination, the betrayal of residents on 34 estates he let slip under the wire before his new ballots policy was announced, and never missing a chance to point out his use of dodgy definitions of ‘affordable’ or his failure to push the government for rent control powers.
Caroline and I have worked so hard to grow the Green Party’s reputation as the strongest opposition party in City Hall. With two of us we don’t have a lot of formal power, but we’ve turned our good ideas into real change even so, and won support and respect for doing this. It’s no accident that the Greens are seen as the party with the most good will behind it, or that we won the most second preferences for Mayor of any party at the last election. People like what we do and they can see the difference we make.
The job of our Assembly candidates in this election is to make our successes count and turn our strong reputation into more votes in ballot boxes. We need effective and targeted action on the streets alongside campaigners, news through people’s letterboxes, compelling TV and radio advocacy from our candidates and cracking speeches and challenges to the other candidates at hustings.
The party vote – the proportional ballot paper where people vote for a party not a person – is where we need to make gains, and that means having our strongest and most united team of candidates ever in 2020.
I’m ready to lead that campaign, and our list needs skills, knowledge, talent and unity right through it, so that people will be confident in voting for the Green Party as a whole to represent them when they cast their party vote.
That’s why I’m asking members to support me with their first choice for Mayor and Assembly, and to help us choose eleven Londonwide Assembly candidates who – over the next year, with our constituency candidates – will develop into the strongest team we’ve ever had. Londoners need to be confident they can trust any and all of us to work for them in the Assembly chamber in 2020.
With a growing climate emergency, a biting housing crisis, danger on our streets, and levels of inequality that boggle the mind in London, it’s our job to work together better than ever. More power for the Greens means more of our ideas in action to solve these problems.
Sian Berry is Co-Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, a member of the London Assembly, and a Councillor in Camden. She has twice previously stood in the London Mayoral election, in 2008 and 2016. In 2016, she received the party’s highest ever vote share – 5.8% – beating the Liberal Democrats to third place in the process.