Meet The People Who Want To Be The Green Party Mayoral Candidate

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 31 months ago
Meet The People Who Want To Be The Green Party Mayoral Candidate

The Green Party has it all to play for in next year's Mayoral and Assembly elections. Jenny Jones came third in the Mayoral contest in 2012 and the party came within a whisker of picking up enough votes for a third seat on the Assembly. With a strong general election showing, particularly in inner London, they'll be expecting to build on their current position.

With that in mind, here are the six candidates vying to be the party's candidate for Mayor and are also among those aiming for a place on the list for the London Assembly. Unlike the Labour contest, you need to be a party member to cast a vote — but with both current Green Assembly Members standing down next year, we're sure to be hearing more from several of these people. We asked them all a few questions, and you can find out more on their websites and social media.

Jonathan Bartley

jonathanJonathan is the Green Party's work and pensions spokesperson and came just 70 votes behind the Lib Dem candidate when he stood for election this year in Streatham. He is an author, has worked in the House of Commons and raised over £1 million for work in the developing world. You might know him from Radio 2's Jeremy Vine Programme and BBC1’s Big Questions. Visit his website and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

What do you see as the most important issues in London?
"I have put forward 10 ideas to kick-start a debate within the Green Party around some of the most important issues and how they could be tackled. They include the housing crisis with a Mayor's Housing Commission, which would look at everything from Community Land Trusts to setting a 'Living Rent' and establishing a London-wide lettings agency. There is no silver bullet on housing, so we must look at how the ideas relate to one another and develop a joined up approach. I want to see a fairer road pricing scheme to replace the congestion charge which could raise £1.4bn, and proper co-ordination to develop the electric vehicle network, as well as a significant expansion of concessionary travel. We must have a more constructive approach with the transport unions, and I want to invite them onto the board of TfL. I also want to expand 'safe havens' so there is one every 100m on every high street.

"But the biggest priority is a commitment to rebalance and transition London's economy from reliance on big business to support for small and resilient business, from the regional to the local, from dependence on financial services to growth in green industry, from poor low paid jobs to good high paid jobs, from rich to poor, fighting poverty not displacing it. This commitment needs to be built into every mayoral plan, and most crucially into the London Plan."

What makes you different from the other candidates?
"I am the only candidate who was was both born and raised in London and with children born and raised here. I grew up in Clapham (I am "the man on the Clapham omnibus") before it was fashionable and gentrified. This London election will be make or break for the Green Party and so it is crucial that we have a mayoral candidate who has a track record of not just holding their own, but also winning political debates, at the highest level. I am the only candidate who has worked at that level and with politicians of all parties. I am also the only candidate with experience of winning debates at that level (for example my encounter with David Cameron or Iain Duncan Smith where Private Eye then found I was correct about suicides of benefit claimants). I also have 18 years experience of national broadcast media.

"We must have a candidate who has shown that they can win widespread support from ordinary Londoners. Where I now live, in Streatham, I worked as chair of Lambeth Green Party to move it from fourth to first place, going from 8% of the vote to 30%, to win a council seat for the first time ever. This kind of vote increase to win a previously "unwinnable" seat, hasn't been done by any other candidate. The Green Party must move out of its comfort zone and show what it could do for every Londoner, not just the traditional Green supporter."

Sian Berry

Photo by Sven Klinge.

Sian contested the Mayoral election in 2008, coming fourth, and is currently a councillor for Highgate in Camden. There, she's won a £1m fund to stop libraries and community centres closing, and is challenging cuts to social housing in the King's Cross redevelopment. She also founded the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s, which persuaded then Mayor Ken Livingstone to introduce a higher congestion charge for the most polluting cars. Visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

What do you see as the most important issues in London?
"Housing is everyone’s number one issue at the moment. Whether it’s people having their estates demolished and communities broken up for big new developments, people without a hope of being able to buy a home at current prices, or people like me who rent privately and who are one rent rise away from being pushed out of the city altogether.

"I’ve proposed working with communities and campaigners to rewrite the London Plan completely. I think our city can justify many of the new policies we need to prevent homes being treated like ‘buy-to-leave’ assets and get properly affordable housing built again. For renters I’ve challenged my rival candidates in other parties who are MPs to put an amendment into the Cities Bill in Parliament to give London’s next Mayor the power to put in rent controls.

"Transport is my biggest area of expertise as I’ve worked as a transport campaigner for more than a decade. It’s crucial to sort out because if walking, cycling and public transport are made cheaper and easier this will also reduce air pollution and road danger, and cut our city’s impact on climate change. To help fund lower fares, more buses and trams and much better cycling infrastructure, I’d cancel the three expensive new road bridges being proposed across the Thames. I’d also like to develop a tax on workplace parking spaces to reduce traffic further and help fund more projects.

"Policing is the other area I want the Green campaign to focus on. The Met is facing £600m in cuts but already has a shocking record in many areas, and is losing the trust of whole groups of citizens with heavy handed methods. There’s a real chance to rethink policing completely and I’d want to bring together communities, campaigners and ordinary police officers to decide on new priorities for police time and resources — perhaps with more of a focus on financial crime we could also restore faith in bankers?"

What makes you different from the other candidates?
"I’ve always been a campaigner and activist as well as a politician, and I think that makes me the best candidate to represent the party in the kind of open, involving campaign we need to run. I want us to work with groups across the city and put the views of Londoners at the heart of our manifesto and the election campaign. I’m also the only candidate from the party (and likely to be the only candidate from any party) who has stood in this election before. I was our candidate for Mayor in 2008, bringing us up to fourth place from seventh the time before and winning endorsements from two national newspapers. Having been through it before, I know I’d really enjoy the campaign, and that I’d work harder than anyone to do a good job again if the party chooses me."

Tom Chance

tomchance

Tom is the Green Party’s housing spokesperson, and a campaigner for the living wage and less polluted air. He is an expert in housing policy after nine years working at City Hall and in a sustainable construction company, and supporting people facing eviction or estate demolition. He came third when he stood for election in Lewisham West and Penge. Visit his website and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

What do you see as the most important issues in London?
"The three big issues as I see them are the crazy cost of housing, streets dominated by polluting cars and rampant inequality. The other big issue is the craving for hope — for example that Londoners will get more than the usual empty words about building homes while knocking down council estates, and that we can all work together to tackle the looming climate crisis.

"I'd work cross-party and with campaign and community groups on practical policies that could radically change our direction. For example, I recently organised a cross-party letter opposing Heathrow expansion. I've proposed a £2bn London Housing Co-operative to help tenants take over regeneration of their estates, and more people to commission genuinely affordable homes to buy and rent. In place of Boris's glacially slow TfL-led plans, I'd enlist local cycling and pedestrian groups to help devise and win support for sweeping changes to our streets to prioritise people over cars, healthy active travel over pollution."

What makes you different from the other candidates?
"I'm the candidate with the most expertise and experience of London's housing crisis — I'm the national party spokesperson on housing, and have spent ten years working professionally and as a campaigner on the issue. I've also been evicted from the first flat I moved into in London! I'm best placed to take on the Labour and Conservative candidates on this issue."

Benali Hamdache

benali

Benali is currently the equalities spokesperson for the Green Party and chair of the LGBTIQ Greens. Benali has a background in campaigning and mental health, having worked in the NHS in mental health treatment and research. He has also worked in migrants rights campaigning and anti-mental health stigma campaigns. Visit his website and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

What do you see as the most important issues in London?
"The most important issue in London has to be the housing crisis. The spiralling unaffordability of this city threatens to turn London into the preserve of only the very wealthy. If people cannot afford to live here all the amazing ideas, creativity and excitement that comes alive everyday is under threat. A London Mayor must act by building more homes, making "affordable" homes actually affordable and overruling developments that do not contain enough social and affordable housing."

What makes you different from the other candidates?
"As a candidate I feel like I'm a different type of candidate. I'm the son of an Algerian migrant and my grandfather was imprisoned during the French occupation of his country for peaceful protest. I'm proud to have inherited my Grandad's urge to fight injustice. That urge is partly born out of not being your typical private school and Oxbridge graduate. I've grown up with many who weren't given the opportunity to succeed. We need to make London a city where everyone has a chance to do more than just survive, but thrive."

Rashid Nix

rashid

Rashid is a housing activist, youth mentor, radio presenter and social commentator. He spent five successful years at Westminster REC as a mentoring expert. In 2004 he trained as a cameraman at the BBC and took his skills back to the streets and ran filmmaking courses for young people. A passionate cricket fan he can often be found discussing the erratic form of the once mighty West Indies. He came second in Coldharbour ward in the 2014 local elections. Visit his website and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

At the time of publication we've not heard back from Rashid, but his website says his priorities are housing, air quality and the prospects for London's young people.

Caroline Russell

Photo by Chris King Photography

Caroline is a councillor for Highbury East ward in Islington. She is a transport campaigner and the Green Party’s national spokesperson on local transport. She played a key role in building the successful case for 20 mph limits on main roads, and has been a grass roots campaigner with Living Streets, Roadpeace and Stop Killing Cyclists. She came third in the general election in Islington North. She was an artist and lecturer before re-training as a civil engineer. Visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

What do you see as the most important issues in London?
"In terms of my priorities, where the Mayor can make some difference, it has to be the homes we live in, the streets we use and the air we breathe. The Mayor has the power to reduce danger and pollution on our streets and to completely re-prioritise how we use this precious public space. Choices need to be made and I would make them in favour of people getting around on foot, by bike and by public transport.

"On housing, talk to almost any Londoner and they will agree London is suffering the joint onslaught of an out of control housing market, where houses are seen as assets not homes. Affordable rent is unaffordable to anyone on an ordinary salary and a slew of new government cuts are limiting the ways in which Local Authorities can support the most vulnerable in our communities."

What makes you different from the other candidates?
"As sole opposition councillor to 47 Labour councillors in Islington, I have learnt how scrutiny works, how to hold my corner in a debate and how to work with communities, bringing the issues people care about in to the Town Hall. With Islington Greens, I have just run our most effective general election campaign ever: I stood in Islington North where we trebled our share of the vote and got Greens out campaigning with residents across every ward in the constituency.

"I bring a wide range of experience of living and working in London beyond politics. I’ve been an artist, I’m a trained civil engineer and I’ve brought up three children. I've always worked collaboratively whether as an art college lecturer, as a school governor or as a cycle courier. As a transport campaigner and the Green Party's National Spokesperson on Local Transport I have a clear vision for the radical action that is needed to reduce danger on our streets, clean up our air and transform London into a more liveable and healthy city."

Last Updated 14 July 2015

Greg Tingey

The more one actually cares for "the environment" & the more one prefers long-term, sustainable solutions to problems ... then.
DO NOT under any circumstances vote "green" - they should properly be called "Watermelon" of course, because most of them are marxists & other forms of religious believer ( i.e. insane )
What's the obvious, practical, SAFE, long-term solution to base-load power generation, that produces no atmospheric pollutants?
Nuclear. As demonstrated in France.

Also, these nutters want to take away the protection that Epping Forest & other vital green lungs of the greater city enjoy, by abolishing the guardian of those spaces.