With a budget of £16 billion pounds, jurisdiction over 8 million people, and much media scrutiny, being the mayor of London comes with great responsibility. The mayor is undoubtedly both an important job in terms of power wielded as well as a feather in the cap to whichever party holds the position.
Perhaps that is why it is so surprising to see relatively low-interest in the election on the 5ᵗʰ of May, in what promises to be a closely contested race between Sadiq Khan and Zac Goldsmith.
In this article I will explain 3 reasons why this election is more important than you might think, and is significant even if you don’t live in London.
1. It’s more than just a title
Though most people are surprised to hear it, the mayor of London actually has quite a lot of power. Although it is limited to a narrow group of issues like transport and housing, these are the two issues that have a lot of impact on the life of Londoners. With vigorous debate on the viability of a night tube and a housing crisis sweeping the capital, there is no doubt that the new mayor will have a major part to play in remedeing the situation. Boris Johnson, a man famed for, well, being Boris Johnson is the best example of type of publicity you get as a mayor. Regardless of whether you loved or loathed Boris, there is no doubt that he played a pivotal role in the running of London, just like the next mayor will too.
2. It has an important political impact
With Labour trailing in the polls and looking set to suffer an unprecedented defeat in the upcoming local election,s Jeremy Corbyn has very little to show for his 7 months as leader. Although Labour’s candidate Sadiq Khan has wisely kept his leader at arm’s length to avoid hurting his campaign, you can be sure that the Corbynites will claim a Khan victory is a show of strength for Mr Corbyn. If Sadiq Khan wins, it could be the difference between success and failure if and when a leadership challenge is launched against Jeremy Corbyn.
Much of the criticism levelled against Khan is because while he did not support Corbyn, he did nominate him to broaden party debate. Little did he know that the MP for Islington North would become leader and that he would be subject to criticism from the Conservatives for allegedly being Corbyn’s pawn. With his potential tenure being describing as being a ‘Corbyn experiment’, it will be interesting to see whether he will distance himself from the leader even more, or if he will embrace him. Either way, the stakes are so high at this election that regardless of the result, the repercussions will definitely resonate in the party.
3) London is a testing ground for new policies
London is argubaly the cultural capital of the world. With a population of over 8 million people comprised of many races, creeds and ethinicities, there is a real scope and chance for change in the city. Progressive and varied ideas on cycling, protection of the green belt while simulataneously cracking down on CO2 emissions by being tougher on HGVs, and giving Londoners first preference when buying a home are all ideas being fielded by candidates in this election. Should these plans work, there is no doubt that they will be replicated elsewhere.
And that’s why so much is at stake here. Whoever gets elected on the 5th of May has the power to make decisions which is resonate across the country and around the world. Make you make your voice heard.