Tom Copley is one of the five new members elected to the London Assembly in May. He's a Labour Londonwide member (i.e., one of the 'top up' members elected proportionally from the party vote) and, though we haven't checked this, we'd put money on him being the only Assembly Member to have a sidebar recommending albums on his website.
What did you do before becoming an Assembly Member?
Before my election to the Assembly I worked for the Searchlight Educational Trust, an anti-racist, anti-fascist charity that works with communities to fight racism and extremism. Standing up against racism and extremism is something I care deeply about and is so important in a diverse city like London. I was delighted that the BNP failed to gain a seat on the London Assembly this time around, and that across the country they lost every single council seat they were defending. The decline of the BNP is down in no small part to the work of Searchlight and the fantastic HOPE not hate campaign. We must remain vigilant, however. Other groups are forming to take the place of the BNP and it is vital that we continue to work to strengthen communities and stamp out racism, hatred and bigotry.
In the run up to the election I took temporary leave from Searchlight to work full-time on the London Labour election campaign.
Why did you stand for the London Assembly?
The thing that really matters in politics is making people's lives better. Having the opportunity to do this is both a huge privilege and a great responsibility. In so many key areas the mayor and the Assembly can make a real difference to the lives of Londoners and I want to play my part in that. This is especially important in tough economic times with a Tory-led government that is making things worse, not better, for ordinary people.
What are your areas of (political) interest?
For me the most important issue is housing. I'm delighted to be on the Assembly's Housing and Regeneration Committee which will be doing crucial work over the next four years, particularly around the Olympic legacy. I come to this issue from the starting point that everyone should have a decent home to live in whether they own their home, rent privately or live in social/council housing. Sadly, London is in housing crisis – the housing market here is completely dysfunctional. I'm encouraged by councils like Camden and Southwark which are building the first new council homes for decades, but the mayor needs to take far more action to deliver the affordable housing we need across London and to address the very serious problems in the private rented sector.
I also have a strong interest in transport. London's transport system is going through a major transformation at the moment with the long-overdue construction of Crossrail. But we need to be looking to the future – to the next major upgrades we need to keep our city moving. I'll be pushing the mayor to ensure that we get Crossrail 2 and the other major transport infrastructure projects that we need to grow London's economy and provide capacity for our ever-growing population.
What do you hope to have achieved by the end of four years?
I'll be pressing the mayor hard over the issue of sky high rents and rogue landlords in the private rented sector. I want to see a great deal of progress made on this over the next four years. I don't think the mayor takes affordable housing seriously enough, and he's dangerously complacent about the housing crisis facing our city. But I'll be working hard with my fellow Labour Assembly members to ensure he delivers on his promise to build more affordable homes, and to ensure that the new Homes for London is not just a rebranding exercise but a dynamic new organisation that will deliver for Londoners.
What's your favourite bit of London?
I've lived in north, south and east London and loved them all. The greatest thing about London is its variety and diversity. My favourite part is Camden where I've lived for the past four years. I love the vibrancy of the area, and particularly the music scene.
You can follow Tom on Twitter at @tomcopley