Estimates are that about 1 million Non-British EU Citizens live in London. Germans, French, Italians, Scandinavians, Poles and many more – all EU-nationalities live and work here. However, these Non-British EU Citizens are four times less likely to be on the electoral register than UK citizens.
You might say this we don’t care about the society we live in, we don’t want to integrate into British society. We have heard this over and over again…
“There seems no reason to behave respectfully towards that little old woman coming out of the Post Office if you feel that she belongs to a culture that is alien from your own… Why not piss against the wall if you feel that it is not really your wall, but part of a foreign country.’” (Boris Johnson, Lend Me Your Ears, p207)
In contrast to some prejudice against foreigners, we are London citizens like everyone else. And we are eligible to vote in the London elections on 1 May. We live in London. We commute in London. We work in London. We pay taxes in London. We breathe the London air. We value the British sense of fairplay as much as the fish and chips.
Most of all, we want to contribute to London functioning better for everybody who lives here.
That is why we care about how London is run who it is run by.
Many issues with high prominence on the Continent are reflected positively in Ken Livingston’s work for London so far and in his future plans. Ken’s commitment to environmental issues matches the beliefs of many Europeans, as does his support of the London Living Wage campaign, transport policy and Safer Neighbourhood policies.
Ken has made living in London more affordable. There are free language courses for new arrivals and free travel for children, disabled people and pensioners. Now Ken also ensures that those who buy less polluting cars pay much less than those who don’t. And of course, he also works for the aim that 50% of new homes should be cheaper homes to buy and homes at affordable rents. Many EU citizens, especially those who have recently come to the UK from new EU member states, are employed in the lower paying sectors of the labour market. The introduction of the living wage by Ken Livingstone and subsequent increases of it has already benefited these workers.
Ken has made living in London much easier. Through introducing the Oyster card (now over 10 million signed up), public transport has become easier to use, and Ken has doubled the night bus network. Ken has made London the only major city in the world where there has been a significant shift from the private car to public transport, cycling and walking. He not only talks about tackling climate change but actively implements effective measures towards this end. Every tonne of CO2 not emitted in London has a positive impact on the rest of this globe.
Ken has made living in London more fulfilling and empowering, not just through cheaper access to cultural events but also through investing in education and skills. He has helped to provide better facilities for young people outside of school hours and pioneering equalities policy before anyone else so everyone can enjoy the same rights.
Even EU citizens who only plan to live here for a few years or less benefit from re-electing an administration which is doing so much to get London moving, to reduce anti-social-behaviour and crime by rolling out Safer Neighbourhood Teams of Police in all of London’s boroughs.
Protecting London from the xenophobic far right
There is a very real threat of reactionary and divisive candidates, with the extreme right BNP party only missing out on a seat by 0.2% in the last London elections. We need to prevent those parties who are trying to break up the bonds between Londoners. London is a world in one city. The global becomes local and the local becomes global.
Ken is the one politician in London who has fully grasped this trend and is utilising it to the benefit of all Londoners, including standing up to foreigners living in London, as he has done supporting the Polish community against the Daily Mail over its reporting of Poles in the UK. Under his time as mayor, London has overtaken New York to become the most successful city in the world, but most importantly he has constantly ensured that all Londoners benefit from this success.
“People from the rest of Britain, people from around the world will arrive in London to become Londoners and to fulfil their dreams and achieve their potential…They choose to come to London, as so many have come before because they come to be free, they come to live the life they choose, they come to be able to be themselves.” (Ken Livingstone, 7th July 2005)
David Schoibl, Chair of Labour Movement for Europe (London & the South East)
Claude Moraes, London Labour MEP
Mary Honeyball, London Labour MEP
Robert Evans, London Labour MEP
Gemma Tumelty, President of the National Union of Students
Chuka Umunna, Compass Management Committee
Martin Rathfelder, Director of SHA
Henning Meyer, Managing Director of Social Europe
Conor McGinn, Irish Londoners for Ken
Tijs Broeke, Chair of the Dutch Labour Party London Branch
Axelle Lemaire, Chair of the French PS London Branch
Stefan Marx, Member of the German SPD London Branch
Maite Morren, LSE Labour Committee (in a personal capacity)
Christos Loutradis, Greeks for Ken Livingstone
Marta Krokos, Poles for Ken
Samuel Tarry, Chair of Compass Youth
Cesar Calderon, Chair of Las Ideas
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