LONDON is the most successful multi-ethnic society in the world – 8.6 million people, 300 languages, a thriving economy, a dazzling arts scene, and a food culture that allows you to cross continents as you’re crossing the street.
The 1.5 million British Asians who live and work here are a major part of that story, making a huge contribution to our public services, forming the backbone of the business community.
I was incredibly proud of the starring role played by British Indians in welcoming Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to Britain. That November night in Wembley, we renewed a friendship with one of the rising powers of this century. It was London at its best: confident, raucous, at home in its many identities.
But this year, London faces an important choice. Under Boris Johnson, we have had eight years of rising prosperity, with record jobs, falling crime and major investments in our transport network. Yet the very forces which make such London such a great place to grow a business or start a career, are also pushing people out.
Too many Londoners are being priced out of homeownership, forced to commute for longer, or denied access to clean air and green space. Urgent action is needed now to stop Londoners being locked out of their own city. That’s why this mayoral election is so important. That’s why I’m fighting to win. So if I’m elected in May, this what I offer.
I’ll start to fix our housing crisis, so Londoners can afford to live in their city. I’ll work with local communities to double the number of houses built by 2020. And where possible, instead of alienating towers in the sky, they will be low-rise, attractive, street-based developments that people are proud to call their own. I’ll build a transport network that is fit for the needs of 21st-century London. That means, for example, building Crossrail 2, delivering the night Tube and bringing south London into the Overground system. I
’ll improve our living environment, because everyone deserves a place to escape the city. I will protect the green belt, clean up our air with tough new rules on HGVs and support for green transport, and improve access to green space. If we commit now, London really can be the greenest city on earth. And because nothing is more important than the safety of our citizens, I’ll make sure our police have the numbers and the powers they need to protect our streets.
I’m confident I can deliver for London because of my record as MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston. Whether it’s backing small businesses with free parking on local high streets, or working with Boris to protect the police budget, I’ve got results by getting people round a table and working towards a deal – reaching compromises without compromising on my principles.
It hasn’t always made me popular with the party hierarchy, but the people I represent are my boss, not David Cameron. I would apply exactly the same principle as mayor of London. Because in the end, it’s about getting things done, not shouting from the sidelines. Boris has shown that the best way to deliver for London is a strong working relationship between a Conservative government and a Conservative mayor. It’s how we secured funding for Crossrail, how we protected the police budget, and it’s something that only I can bring to this job. The alternative is Jeremy Corbyn’s candidate Sadiq Khan – a machine politician with no record of working with other parties, who has never voted against his own party and who would only use City Hall to score political points.
Labour see victory in May as a political trophy, just a stepping stone on the road to a Jeremy Corbyn premiership. It would be four wasted years of gridlock and grandstanding, at a time when London needs action. London doesn’t need four years of political games. Instead we need to get on and build the new homes, back the new businesses and lay the new rail, so we can give all Londoners the life they want.
Generations of British Asians have overcome huge obstacles to live the London dream. As mayor, I’ll make sure that dream can be shared by all.
*Zac Goldsmith is the Conservative MP for Richmond Park and London mayoral candidate