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The London Mayoral election is less than three months away and media outlets across the UK are unquestionably expecting it to be a two-horse race between the Labour and Conservative candidates – Sadiq Khan and Zac Goldsmith, respectively.
However, writing for Politics Bulletin, Iain Fenton and Manuel Tenga take a look at the candidates outside of the ‘top two’ and question whether or not Londoners should instead use their votes to facilitate change in London whilst at the same time, moving away from the ‘status quo’.
“As for my chances of becoming Mayor, if this is an election based on the candidate, their vision for London and their policies, I will win,” states independent candidate Paul Tavares. As an independent candidate he is absolved from the duty of alliance, he does not have the lingering shadow of a party leader to contend with only accountability to his supporters. Certainly one thing London does not need right now is a candidate who wants the top job in the city for their ego or political party.
“But what voters should really know, more than anything else, is that if elected, I will be the best and most successful London Mayor in the history of this city by a country mile.”
Whilst Tavares’ confidence is clear to see, the 42 year old Londoner’s self assurance is certainly a good trait for a Mayor of London to exhibit.
Coming from a business-managing and directing background, Paul Tavares is no stranger to the inner workings of the city of London. In 2013 he founded ‘The City Members Club’- a private members club for senior corporate executives and leaders of industry within the financial sector, Tavares’ business acumen is bettered by few. He is a married father of two, born in Camden but a fan of Liverpool football club and his parents are of Portuguese descent. Tavares has a background in software engineering, a degree in Information systems and a Master’s Degree in Technology Management obtained while studying at London South Bank University. The burning question is whether he will attract donations from businesses and property developers? Not everyone can receive financial backing from their mother, like the conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith. According to Sadiq Khan trade unions backing is a badge of pride. Sian claims that due to ethical codes they will not accept donations from big companies.
“I’ve successfully negotiated Million Dollar deals with some of the largest financial institutions in the world,” he states.
However, despite the million dollar deals, Tavares started out in humble beginnings – he was brought up in a London council home after his Portuguese parents moved to the UK in the early 1970s.
“My parents were immigrants who came to London from Portugal in the early 1970s,” Tavares explains:
“My parents worked as cleaners, working harder than anyone I’ve ever known and having sacrificed everything for their children in order to give them a better life than they never knew themselves growing up.
“They were fortunate enough to be given a council home, which they later bought; a flat that my family and I still call home to this day.”
Tavares is primarily basing his election candidacy on an economic and housing platform. Based on his experience with small to medium sized businesses, if elected, Tavares has promised to give a leg-up to small businesses, this, he states, is the key to improving the economy of the city of London as well as ensuring ordinary Londoners are given the opportunity to start up their own businesses whilst creating jobs in the area too.
“For too long has London’s economy been reliant upon the financial services sector and the housing market. We need to diversify and grow other industry sectors in order to successfully grow and instil greater resilience into our economy.
“Since small businesses are the very lifeblood of our economy, as Mayor of London I will also do everything I can to ensure small businesses and start-ups have access to affordable premises.
Despite the much improved financial conditions that Tavares has provided for himself and his two children, he feels strongly that modern day career politicians have a lot of making up to do, especially regarding the housing crisis that London has found itself in:
“Most top politicians do lead very privileged lifestyles. There’s no denying it, he states.
“The truth is, their lives are far removed from our own, filled with opportunities that we can only ever dream of. They don’t face the same struggles that we do. They never find themselves going into the red on their bank account. They don’t have to worry about where the next pay cheque is coming from or if they have enough money to put food on the table for their children.
“We’re now living in a city that is fast becoming the playground of the rich and privileged few whilst we ordinary Londoners are left to pay the price and suffer the consequences. We work harder than ever and sacrifice more than ever, and all for less.
“London is facing a major housing crisis that has been raging on for decades, one that is not only leading to the social cleansing of our city and the destruction of social mobility as we know it but is also harming the business community and our economy.”
Tavares has highlighted that solving the housing crisis will be his top priority if he is elected. People on an average income in the City are unable to afford home ownership. Housing is not only a political but also a social issue which has proved problematic for Londoners. Tavares shares the view of Zac Goldsmith, stating that housing should be the number one priority for the next mayor. Tavares and other candidates believe that we need to free up land, publicly owned brownfield sites need to be handed to the mayor to develop into new and affordable homes. There is a high demand for more homes, some have asked for a London living rent to accompany these new homes. Londoners need to be prioritised and prevent developers and overseas investors from purchasing the new homes. Over 600,000 people have left London in the past decade, perhaps due to affordability issues. Some believe more social houses which offer affordability and stability are a potential solution. Will Paul Tavares stop the selling of council houses by putting a stop to Tory plans to force Housing Associations to sell? Will his loyalties be to the working class people of London? He states that the housing crisis in London has created three main consequences:
“Firstly, the social mobility of the city is falling apart – normal Londoners are being forced to relocate the city due to the ever increasing cost of renting.
“Secondly, highly qualified and skilled people are leaving the city due to affordability issues and the overall lower standard of living.
“Thirdly, it’s harming the economy. The more Londoners spend on paying such things as mortgages/rents and travel costs, the less they have to spend on both essential and lifestyle products and services. In many cases, people are paying up to 75% of their wages on rent in the capital. That affects business turnover, which in turn has a negative knock-on effect on the wider economy.”
Unfortunately, the independent candidate only foresees things getting even worse, Tavares blames previous Labour and Conservative Mayors of London for the escalation of the housing crisis and states that a vote for either the Labour or Conservative candidates is the definition of madness, he said:
“If we don’t tackle the housing crisis now and in the right way, things will only get far worse – not only for us today but also for our children and future generations.
“In London, the crisis has been allowed to reach crisis point due to the failures of Labour and Conservative Mayors over the past 16 years. And now we’re being asked to trust them to fix the problem they created and voting them in as the next Mayor of London? Seriously?
“Albert Einstein is accredited as having once said that the true definition of madness is to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results every time. Voting for a Conservative or Labour Mayor is precisely that – madness.”
One measure of a mayor’s time in office is the number of strikes they face as a direct result of their policies. It remains true that people have the right to withdraw their labour however, for mayoral candidates strikes are a reflection of poor relations with the industries. Will Tavares be in favour of the night tube? Does he view the EU as an undemocratic institution like many in the Leave campaign, if indeed he is a Euro-sceptic? Does he believe that the social, cultural and economic benefits outweigh the niggling problems caused by ever closer union in the EU?
In order to fix the housing crisis, Tavares plans to build more social housing to protect the most vulnerable members of society which include the disabled, the homeless and victims of crime. Tavares is critical of the Conservatives affordable housing scheme, indicating that the so called ‘affordable houses’ aren’t truly affordable and it is something that needs addressing, he says:
“I would create a Housing Development Agency (HDA). Its role would be to assume responsibility for all major home building projects on London’s publicly owned Brownfield land. In terms of numbers, I would look to build 35,000 affordable homes (to buy and rent) and 15,000 new social homes every year. Priority allocation of private rented properties would be offered to key local workers, such as junior doctors, nurses and midwives, fire fighters, police officers and teachers.”
However, Tavares knows that he must be able to back up his words with actions and he has already made a plan which will fund his housing policies, he says:
“I will leverage the financial markets. I will establish investment funds to finance regional building programmes. Shares in the fund will be initially offered to local residents, giving aspiring people the opportunity to invest in their own communities like never before. I will then offer the remaining shares on the open market to other investors. Each fund will offer investors a fixed rate of interest, paid for through the rental income on the new homes.”
We are unsure if Tavares will cut or double the number of armed response police officers in London. Will such strategy keep the city safe? Perhaps we may see an increase of neighbourhood policing and frontline officers. We do not know how Paul plans to tackle racism and Islamophobia in the city. Tavares has revealed however, that he intends to; tackle rising crime, improve collaborative community policing and fight to protect police budgets. As other candidates are starved of the publicity they desire and deserve, Paul Tavares is making headway. He is seasoned in leadership and that is what London needs now. Paul Tavares is someone who will champion the victims of austerity and hopes to speak for the 99 per cent. The mayoral candidate is yet to confirm whether he will attend the South West London Question Time on the 11th of April. One thing is certain, running the City is very different from running a business. With London branded a Labour City and the air of inevitability that Khan or Zac will fill the shoes of Boris, Paul Tavares is certainly one to watch as he is both ambitious and authentic.