London’s Mayoral Manifestos: Campaigning against immigration, HS2 and (of course) the EU
Ukip’s Culture Spokesman for the last two years, former TV producer Peter Whitte is not new to electoral campaigns. He was a candidate for London at the European Elections in 2014, a local council candidate in the same year, and last year in the general election he was parliamentary candidate for Eltham.
He says: "People really do know where we are coming from in Ukip and they do know that we believe what we say and we say what we mean - I don't think they feel that about the other candidates."
"We have to make sure that new people hear our message and I'm very, very optimistic about that. But we do have a very strong brand - to use that terrible word - and I think that is something that I will be offering that other candidates simply don't have."
Mr Whittle, like the other candidates, has spotted that housing is an issue that can win votes. One of his policies is to address the demand side of the market by reducing pressure on housing stock by campaigning for greater controls on immigration. This should - in theory - reduce demand for housing in London and hence bring the price back down or at least make more homes available to locals.
"You can't really just talk about supply without talking about demand. You have got to know how many people you are planning for and at the moment we have absolutely no way of doing that," he says.
When it comes to homes and social housing built on Greater London Assembly land, Mr Whittle wants to prioritise Londoners. This is another attempt at making ‘London for Londoners’.
He has also pledged to put power back into the hands of voters on issues such as planning and development:
"One of my key priorities if elected Mayor is to actually give power back to those who it belongs to, the people. I want to put democracy back into the hands of local people when it comes to large and controversial developments.
"Recent polling has shown in stark detail that Londoners increasingly feel powerless over their built environment. This is why UKIP's policy proposes binding referenda, held by local authorities, on any new large developments, if 5% of the local population petition for such a referendum within three months.
"This policy is a real transfer of power from the Mayor to the people and will help to protect the connection between Londoners and their city."
Mr Whittle is keen on scrapping several things in this category. For instance, the Garden Bridge is superfluous for him so that’ll be scrapped under a Ukip mayor. The Emirates cable car will be sold instead of being incorporated deeper into the transport system, and the candidate has also said he will campaign for the scrapping of HS2.
He is in favour of a 24-hour tube service, saying: “As a world-class city, London certainly needs a 24-hour service. It’s taken too long - there’s great public demand for it, and not having it strikes most of us as odd, rather like TV closing down at midnight. [On strikes] I believe there should be changes in ballot rules, with a greater percentage required for strike action. But banning strikes? No. I’m instinctively against that. Banning is a sign of weakness, not strength.”
Furthermore, Mr Whittle is in favour of the devolution to London of the Thameslink, South Western and South Eastern rail services.
Mr Whittle is in opposition of the Heathrow expansion, instead suggesting an expansion of Gatwick alongside other local and regional airports in order to address the current strain on the international transport network in and around London.
Mr Whittle is also emphasising his preference for building on brownfield sites in order to preserve greenfield sites from homes for as long as possible.
The ultra-free market candidate himself is proposing a freeze on private car hire licensing due to the unfair competition they burden the black cab industry with.
Mr Whittle is also prepared to sacrifice a major source of income by introducing free parking. Whilst other candidates are trying to discourage the use of cars, he wants to help small businesses and the local high street through free parking.
His support for local business also means he will, unsurprisingly, campaign against EU regulation.
Policing and Crime
Mr Whittle supports police stop and search powers in order to reduce and tackle knife crime, and also wants health personnel to report all instances of injury due to bladed weapons to the police.
Mr Whittle also says he will stand behind the police in the enforcement of the law in the context of cultural practices like forced marriage and FGM.
Cosmopolitan London is not natural Ukip territory, whatever the candidate says. In 2012 the party came sixth.
The lack of policies may be seen as an indication of the seriousness which the party is taking the race, in the midst of the EU referendum. Whilst several of his policies are technically practical, it seems some are less so. Moreover it seems many of his positions are about “campaigning” for issues such as less immigration, HS2, and fewer EU regulations, areas on which the Mayor has no powers.
Ukip have not publish a manifesto. Nor did Mr Whittle’s office respond to our information request (accurate at time of publishing).
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