London Is In A Bit Of A State

By Londonist Last edited 119 months ago
London Is In A Bit Of A State

It turns out that, contrary to popular media opinion, politics is alive and well with our great capital's young. Last night we squeezed into the State of London Debate, an event at Central Hall Westminster hosted by Boris Johnson and his team. A ticket did not guarantee entry and luckily we got there in plenty of time because the event was full to the brim with Londoners, young and old, anxiously waiting to ask questions and hear what the Blond had to say about London. On this evidence, it looks like Boris has done what other politicians fail to do, managing to appeal and relate to the young. Look at the queue!

This is an annual affair and an opportunity for Londoners to ask questions and air grievances. Yesterday's event was focused on 'New opportunities for young Londoners', and as you'd imagine, the passion of the audience was immense, with gang culture, gun and knife crime taking centre stage.

The panel was as follows:

Boris Johnson - Our Mayor. Previously a journalist as well as MP for Henley on Thames. His hair was surprisingly well groomed.

Ray Lewis - Deputy Mayor for Young People and Opportunities. He is also Executive Director of Eastside Young Leaders' Academy. His role at the GLA is to lead on policy and strategy to meet the Mayor's manifesto commitments for children and young people. Ray was hugely impressive and has some great ideas on how to sort London out. Worth keeping tabs on.

Munira Mirza - Director of Policy, Arts, Culture and the Creative Industries. Her role at the GLA is to lead on policy and strategy to meet the Mayor's manifesto commitments for arts and culture. Munira would like to see more investment in youth cultural facilities.

Jennette Arnold AM – Chair for the evening and of the London Assembly. A lady not to get on the wrong side of.

Ross Kemp – Mitchell Brother, actor and 'BAFTA award winning' gang expert. He is down with the kids and their lingo e.g. 'slipping' is going from one neighbourhood to another without permission of the native gang.

Headlines emerging from the discussion were that every generation has been prone to panic about younger generations (Boris suggested that Plato among others had observed this), but issues affecting the young in today's society are a major challenge which must be addressed. Money needs to be spent wisely for maximum output. The media need to be more forgiving to the youth. Opportunities for young people to prosper and to get involved in the political process need to be widely created. A radical rethink is needed.

The most important question of the evening was asked by Boris himself… how do we make the carrying of knifes and guns seem uncool? We'd like to open this debate to the floor.

By Jonny Rosemont

Image courtesy of deadheaduk's Flickrstream under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

Last Updated 27 June 2008


Maybe we should get Phil Collins, Andi Peters and the guy who used to star in the Mr. Muscle adverts to pose with handguns and flickknives in a multi-platform campaign. Associating violent weapons with such characters can only denude knives and guns of their cool cachet.

Also, Ross Kemp? Seriously.


Was going to suggest a televised gunfight / flickknife-throwing contest between Alan Carr and the Nolan Sisters but on reflection that actually sounds very cool.

Boris and Plato are right (they're always right, those two). The kids get a hard time and we should lay off em. Except the ones who play their music out loud on the bus, they're gonna have to be put down - one of the few campaign promises the Mayor has yet to make good on...


"... put down"

That's a bit extreme, dePfeffel.


OK then, could we make them eat their mobiles instead? And of course I mean "kids" of all ages - there were some very old kids on the 476 last week inflicting their bad techno on the top deck...


"Make them eat their mobiles"? That is seriously the best idea ever. They can chow down on their Nokias with the tinny beats of the new Akon single still bleeping away.

Was that "group of old kids on the 476" in fact you and your mates with a ghettoblaster and the new Candi Staton seven inch?


No. But anyone playing Candi Staton would of course be reprieved. They could even turn it up a little bit.


Haha. You can find ghettoblasters, mobiles, Akon records, good and bad techno, and Phil Collins posters at Check it out! It's a shopping search engine with wikis ( like wikipedia.