In 2016, Londoners elected me as their mayor in the face of one of the nastiest and most divisive political campaigns in British history. The election was about Londoners showing that they still believe it is possible to create a fairer and more equal city. Yet this spirit of optimism and positivity has come under increasing attack following an incredibly tough few years for Londoners and a growing sense of uncertainty about our future.
We have witnessed the tragedy of the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower – causing the deaths of 72 Londoners – and endured a series of terrorist attacks. We are living through the chaos, confusion and uncertainty of Brexit, which is draining optimism and leaving many Londoners unsettled. And we’ve seen the consequences of the government’s punishing austerity programme go from bad to worse – with cuts to the police, schools, the NHS, local authorities, youth services and welfare creating a perfect storm, which has led to an appalling rise in violent crime across the country, including London.
However, none of this has diminished my passion and determination to make London a fairer city. There is still more to do to end rough sleeping on our streets and to help Londoners who struggle to pay their rent. I still want us to go further and faster to tackle air pollution and climate change. I am as determined as ever to stamp out discrimination, whether based on race, religion, class, age, gender or sexuality. And I will continue to fight for Britain to stay in the European Union.
Despite the backdrop of the past few years, we are beginning to see tangible positive results with a Labour administration at City Hall. As well as building a record number of social homes, doubling our homelessness outreach teams and making transport more affordable for millions of Londoners, we are delivering some exciting initiatives that provide more opportunities for people to reach their potential: from establishing the London Borough of Culture and delivering creative enterprise zones to rolling out a new Young Londoners Fund, giving those at risk of getting caught up in crime new opportunities to make the most of their lives.
In many areas, we are leading the world, demonstrating that regional government is the future of our country – better placed to act and more nimble and responsive to the needs of citizens than our log-jammed parliament. We have the boldest plans to tackle air pollution of any major city – with the ultra-low emission zone watched closely around the globe. We have given communities more control of how their local area changes by giving tenants and residents the right to a vote on estate regeneration plans we fund.
We have groundbreaking plans to reduce childhood obesity, including restricting new fast food outlets near schools and banning junk food ads on the Transport for London estate. And we have become one of the first cities in the world to outline how we intend to comply with the highest aspirations of the Paris climate agreement.
I am proud that we are laying the foundations for a better, fairer city that works for all Londoners. Yet, despite all the progress we have made, I am continually looking for new, innovative ideas or policies to help us meet our ambitions as a city. This is what Capital Gains, a new Fabian Society report is about – giving experts in their fields the opportunity to think big about London’s challenges and showing how London can be even better by promoting new ideas to tackle problems, both old and new, and encouraging further debate.
The contributions are thoughtful, detailed and include insights and proposals that merit serious and wide debate. Whether it is proposals to address the inequalities in our private rented housing sector, or the powerful views on tackling in-work poverty, crime and homelessness, or ideas for a fairer economy in London, there are exciting and ambitious ideas that I will seriously consider in the run-up to the launch of my 2020 election manifesto.
My hope is that we will also kick-start a debate – I want to hear the views of people across London. I am just as passionate today as when I first became mayor to deliver on my ultimate ambition: to make London a fairer city where all Londoners get the opportunities that our city gave to me and my family.