Friday 11 April 2008

The Battle for London Mayor - By Jonathan Porritt

Johnathan Porritt, the ex-Chair of the Ecology Party (the Precursor to the Green Party) has written this piece about the race for the Mayor of London on his blog:

"I blame London’s taxi-drivers personally. How else can one possibly explain the lead over Ken Livingstone that Boris Johnson has apparently taken in the polls for the London Mayoral Election? On the rare occasions that I have to endure a ride with a garrulous cabbie, any conversation all but instantly comes round to the evil, scheming, cabbie-hating monster that is Ken Livingstone - according to them. I have never come across such a vein of venom and vituperation.

The prospect of Boris as Mayor of London is just so scary. Either he is a genuine, out-and-out buffoon, in which case London becomes a laughing stock alongside its Mayor, or he is a pseudo-buffoon, in which case his true ideological nastiness will soon be revealed. The prospect of Boris taking over London’s Climate Change Action Plan is even scarier. He may have learnt not to reveal his full contrarian bigotry on climate change, but he really doesn’t get it, and would rapidly scale back or completely get rid of the ambitious targets in the Action Plan. And that would be a massive set back. Internationally, London is widely recognised as one of a handful of cities showing real leadership on climate change.

And Ken Livingstone has driven that personally, in a very effective partnership with his deputy, Nicky Gavron. Just as he has driven a host of other environmental and sustainability priorities. The surreal sight of Boris on the TV castigating Ken for his “lack of environmental vision” was almost too much to cope with. So I just hope all the environmental NGOs can rally the troops in London in a pro-Ken campaign, even if they can’t come out and explicitly endorse him.

Lastly, right now, I can’t help comparing Ken’s approach on these issues with other luminaries in the Labour Party. He really does understand how to make the joins between a high quality physical environment, sustainable resource use and a commitment to social justice, whilst still driving forward plans for increased economic prosperity. Particularly through a different kind of energy economy. It’s sort of grown-up.

Unlike the jejune fantasising about a “nuclear renaissance” in the UK, creating “hundreds of thousands of jobs” which now emanates from BERR – the sort of over-hyped nonsense which has to be put on a par with claims made nearly 50 years ago that nuclear power would one day be “too cheap to meter”.

Wouldn’t it be great, just once, to hear a senior Labour Politician (other than Ken) enthusing in similar terms about the hundreds of thousands of real jobs that would be created were we ever to get serious about energy efficiency?"

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