Having previously interviewed Sian Berry, the standard-bearer for the Greens now currently in a pact (electoral, not economic or suicide we assume) with Labour's Ken Livingstone, Londonist sent a set of common questions out to (most of) the other candidates in the May 1st mayoral election.
First up is Gerard Batten, standing for the UK Independence Party, who doubles up as one of the capital's representatives in the European Parliament (the existential considerations of which are truly mind-boggling). Batten told us he holds no candle for 'the politically correct brigade' (but wants their vote) and believes that the sort of people 'who are in favour of the congestion charge are also likely to be in favour of continued mass-immigration'. Taking his cue from Bob Marley, Batten believes in only one class of Londoner ('those who live, work and pay taxes in London'), who should speak one 'official language' (the Queen's English, init).
Why do you think you should be Mayor and what policies would you bring to the office that would make you stand out against the other candidates?
I am a Londoner, having lived and worked in London all my life. I wasn't elected to political office until the age of fifty and for the thirty-odd years prior to that I earned a living in the real world. I know the problems that affect people trying to earn a living, and the difficulties that face businesses in making the profits that politicians love to tax to pay for their grandiose schemes.
I am not a career politician but I am a professional politician. I will concentrate on the big picture in London. My priorities will be to cut crime, get traffic moving, and to reduce the tax burden. I will put an end to divisive minority politics and multiculturalism from the Mayor's office—the 'cultural Marxism' that Ken Livingstone has built his career on. I will recognise only one class of Londoner: those who live, work and pay taxes in London. And only one official language: English.
As Mayor I will serve all Londoners equally.
Where do you live in London and what do you like best about it?
I live in East London. I like the fact that in half an hour or so I can be in the West End, and in half an hour going in the opposite direction I can be in the countryside. What I like best about London is the variety of things to do and see: museums, art galleries, historical sites, concert halls, theatres, shops, restaurants, pubs etc. You name it London has got it.
How do you personally travel around London?
I have always used public transport. My current office is near London Bridge and I use the train and tube to commute. It takes me an hour or so to travel the eight miles door to door. I sometimes use my car to get into my office at week-ends but I would never do that during the week out of principle—although I could probably get a 90% discount on the congestion charge I wouldn't pay Ken Livingstone a penny!
What is your policy regarding irritant noise from mobile phone music players on the tube and buses?
I don't have a policy, but surely there must be a device that can be used to interfere with such things? Such a device could be held in the pocket and activated without anyone knowing who was responsible. Perhaps then people would start to get the message and turn the volume down. Someone could make a small fortune selling those. If you approached someone now and politely asked them to turn the volume down you are likely to get a mouthful of abuse, if not worse, and until the police have reduced crime they have better things to do that go around asking people to turn their iPod volume down.
Would you have introduced the Congestion Charge and if not will you repeal it?
I would never have introduced the Congestion Charge. As Mayor I will repeal it. It hasn't reduced congestion or pollution. It is just a scam to screw money out of the motorist. One of my policies is to introduce referenda on London-wide issues. Something like the Congestion Charge should never have been introduced without the consent of those who have to pay it. Congestion is due to overcrowding in London. The same people who are in favour of the congestion charge are also likely to be in favour of continued mass-immigration, such as Ken Livingstone.
You cannot have your cake and eat it. If we continually bring more people into London it is going to get more and more congested. UKIP policy is to introduce an immediate five year freeze on immigration, secure our borders, return illegal residents to their home countries, and introduce a strict points based system for any future, moderate, levels of immigration. UKIP would end mass-immigration.
London is always going to be a busy city but what I will do as Mayor is to get traffic moving. As well as abolishing the congestion charge I will reduce traffic and parking restrictions to a minimum, on the principle of safety first, and I want to see reductions in tube fares and more flexible tickets.
Do you support the building of a new runway at Heathrow and how would you reduce your own international travel if you become Mayor?
It gives me no pleasure so see more and more of England concreted over to make runways, air terminals and roads, but reluctantly I have to say that if we are going to have an ever expanding population then we also have to have the infrastructure to allow them to travel, which is an essential part of modern life. The population of Britain is due to rise from the current 62 million or so, to over 70 million by 2050, on current trends. Why is it that the politically correct brigade sees nothing wrong with unlimited immigration and massive population increases and yet object to the same people being able to fly or drive? England is one of the most densely populated counties in the world and if we want to ease congestion then we should stop mass immigration. The current rise in the population is coming entirely from immigration and the birth rates of immigrants. Were there little immigration we would have a steady or slightly declining population, which, in my opinion, from an environmental point of view we should be aiming for.
As Mayor I would give up my seat in the European Parliament so I would no longer need to travel to Strasbourg and Brussels, so yes I would reduce my international travel. I will close down Ken's 'embassies' in Brussels, India and elsewhere—so I would have no need to travel to them either. I would concentrate on London and my international travel would therefore be drastically reduced—so surely even the politically correct brigade should vote for me on that basis!
What would be your vision for the city by 2020 and how would you achieve it as Mayor?
I want to see a London where it is safe to walk the streets without fear of violence and crime, where you can travel around with the maximum ease and minimum stress, and where the tax burden is the lowest possible. I will achieve that by concentrating on the essentials and tackling the big issues.
Do you have any London-based trivia our readers may not know?
Captain Cook the great explorer lived for a while in the Mile End Road before embarking on his epic journeys of discovery across the Pacific Ocean. Joseph Stalin visited London in the early twentieth century and stayed in Stepney. Not many people know that.
Have you ever been sick on the tube?
No, but I have come close once or twice, however I am heartily sick of travelling in conditions that would be illegal if they were applied to animals.