We always thought the need to put up a £10k deposit to stand for mayor of London was to deter cranks and idiots. But a truly bizarre Twitter conversation over the weekend proved us wrong.
Ankit Love wants your vote to be mayor. He’s standing for the One Love Party. Who is he? Well, he claims to be the Emperor of Jammu and Kashmir in exile — a former princely state that was set up in 1846 after a man called Gulab Singh paid 7.5m rupees to the East India Company, which sounds totally legit and not any kind of colonial bullshit at all.
Love himself has made some films, had a “number one hit on MTV” (not the same thing, you’ll note, as a number one hit) and has previously tried to crowdfund a mission to Mars.
We’ll get to the coup bit in a minute.
Londonist keeps getting emails from a PR asking if we’d like to interview Mr Love, but as Londonist isn’t in the habit of doing things that we expect would cause us to beat our fists at the sky in frustration, we’ve always declined.
But we didn’t expect to end up in a weird Twitter conversation with the official party account.
(Speaking of the Twitter account, it’s been running for less than a month but already has 19,000 followers. Maybe it’s a social media hit, or maybe there’s something else going on.)
Anyway, the first tweet claimed that Love is working to end nuclear war, which seems a bit of a stretch for the office of mayor. No problem, we were told; Ankit Love is a sovereign head of state and appears to want to use the mayoralty as his personal soapbox.
Things then got odder. Ankit Love is very concerned about air pollution — as are we all, given it shortens the lives of over 9,000 Londoners each year. But he wants the Army to “oust” the government over it.
We’ve all had days when we’ve wanted to get the head of the British Army on the phone and persuade him to take the tanks on an excursion down Whitehall. We feel like that most days on the Northern line.
But this is what most people would call “a military coup”.
And it’s not the only time Love’s party says he’d use imperial prerogative to get what he wants.
Take housing. We definitely have a housing crisis in this city. Ankit Love wants to build 1 million social homes using Chinese skyscraper prefabrication methods.
Now, prefabrication methods have come a long way in recent years and, though we remain to be completely convinced that construction standards in the People’s Republic of China are parallel to those of the UK, there may be something worth investigating.
Do we, however, want hundreds of tower blocks over 50 storeys in height springing up all across London? The skyline campaign will have a fit, never mind local residents. Never mind, says the party. They’d just ‘call in’ any rejection to City Hall.
That kind of sweeping overreach may have been OK in 19th century Kashmir, but it’s not going to play in Wandsworth.
(There’s also another rather large flaw in the plan to build 1 million homes on Transport for London land, and that’s that Love is confusing land which TfL owns with land that is suitable for building on. “Ankit Love aims to build on the 5,700 acres of land owned by the Greater London Authority through TfL” says his website — not realising or able to Google the fact that includes tube stations, tracks and depots.)
This guy is going to be on the ballot on 5 May. That’s democracy for you.