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London mayor election 2016: Breaking down the business agendas of six candidates

9 min read

04 May 2016

Former deputy editor

With the London mayor election taking place on 5 May 2016, we’ve written a round-up of six of the 12 most popular candidates to break down exactly who they are and what businesses should expect to happen if they win.

Boris Johnson has bowed out of City Hall after an eight-year stint in control of political decisions in Britain’s capital.

And with a new replacement imminent, we’ve put together a breakdown of his would-be successors to determine the impact they’ll have for businesses should the plea for power be a triumph.

Aside from a fallout with prime minister David Cameron over the ongoing EU Referendum debate, Johnson’s most notable move this year has been the reveal of a plan to take 800 London-based SMEs global with an agenda to support worldwide expansion.

But what can the other candidates bring to the table?

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Sian Berry, Greens

Motto: The power of good ideas

Camden councillor Sian Berry, originally from Cheltenham, has been based in the capital throughout her career. As a transport campaigner and private rent tenant, her big goal is to make travel fares fairer while introducing more affordable housing for Londoners. Berry got behind the #StayFareMayor campaign created by the London taxi industry with a promise to support black cabs with technological advancements.

Business agenda:

Berry has devised a Bank for London to support small businesses and “build a more resilient local economy”, providing loans and finance.

She wants to get rid of City Airport to cut pollution, while turning the area into a community of businesses and homes. She claims the 500,000 square metre site could create at least 16,000 jobs.

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Sadiq Khan, Labour

Motto: A mayor for all Londoners

Sadiq Khan, born and bred in London, is using his humble roots as a means of engaging with the people. Boasting a council estate upbringing and a father who was a bus driver, Khan is also hoping to appeal to the city’s multicultural environment by citing his pride of being a Muslim. All of this combined, in addition to running a law business and serving as transport minister, is what makes Khan sure he can be a man of the people.

Business agenda:

Creation of a Business Advisory Board to discover growth challenges of companies, while including them within policy planning.

Acknowledge the skills gap with a Skills for Londoners scheme to work closely with businesses, enabling them to posses the skills required for scaling.

Khan also plans to prevent business space losses by working with local authorities, while he will also make a case for London industry to push overseas for overseas growth.

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Zac Goldsmith, Conservatives

Motto: Back Zac: Delivering for Londoners

Born into wealth, Zac Goldsmith’s father was billionaire businessman James Goldsmith. Having grown up in the capital, Goldsmith started his career as a journalist prior to moving into politics and hopes to continue holding the torch for the Conservatives following Johnson’s eight-year run. As MP for Richmond Park and North Kingston, Goldsmith is focused on community appeal, having supported local projects, he wants to expand that mantra for London to bring families together, support young adults and cut pollution.

Business agenda:

Slashing red tape is on Goldsmith’s radar as he looks to provide startups a simplified environment that makes things easier for business growth.

Creation of a Business Advisory Group, the members of which would be nominated by business leaders and entrepreneurs.

While he will champion the night tube created by Johnson, Goldsmith also plans to deliver fast broadband to offer commuters seamless connectivity through TfL’s 560km of routes.

Continue reading on the next page to hear what controversial candidates including former Big Brother contestant George Galloway and UKIP’s Peter Whittle have planned.


George Galloway, Respect Party

Motto: A strong voice for London

With a promise that he is both straight forward and straight talking, Dundee-born George Galloway was formerly a member of the Labour party but found himself expelled in 2003. A year later and he joined the Respect Party before becoming its leader in 2013. With almost four decades in politics, Galloway has highlighted that London is “run by and for the Metropolitan elite” and believes “with great wealth comes great responsibilities”, which is why he is pushing for CSR. Galloway also boasts celebrity status from his time in Celebrity Big Brother.

Business agenda:

Galloway promises to “campaign relentlessly” for the London Living Wage and a higher minimum wage to “end the continuing social cleansing of poor and ordinary working people from London”. 

Unlike the likes of business secretary Sajid Javid, Galloway plans a crack down on Uber and claims it is “everything that is wrong with the zero-hour, tax-dodging, deregulated economy promoted by our political elite”. 

He will expand the Oyster Card to let it serve as an interest-free debit card that can be used in shops and restaurants, providing a new revenue stream for firs and convenience to users.

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Caroline Pidgeon, Liberal Democrats

Motto: Caroline can

Southampton-born Caroline Pidgeon had some 12 years as a councillor in Southwark where she had a particular focus on children and young people. She believes London has “huge potential” that isn’t available to everyone. Part of the vision will result in her tackling the problem of “too many women” staying out of work after giving birth due to high childcare costs, and also the housing crisis. “Unless we tackle these barriers London will be a city that serves the few, not the many,” she says.

Business agenda:

Pigeon wants the UK to stay in the EU so thatLondon remains at the heart of the European market, believing it’s a major draw for international firms.

She plans on using the London Plan to produce more business locations in new developments, standing against the conversion of enterprise sites that are being converted into luxury flats.

She will “eliminate ‘not-spots’ for mobile phones and data coverage” by working with internet providers to ensure small businesses can access super-fast broadband.

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Peter Whittle, UKIP

Motto: Working hard for Londoners

South Londoner Peter Whittle has been the culture spokesman at UKIP for two years and claims he wants to “represent my city and its wonderful people”. Revealing a working class background, Whittle has spoken of his father the delivery driver and his mother the shop assistant. Meanwhile, his career has seen him work as a TV producer and journalist in the UK and US. Noting that 600,000 people have fled London over the past decade because they can’t afford to live in the city, Whittle believes his local knowledge, passion and life experience make him ideal to replace Johnson.

Business agenda:

Whittle has complained that there are major financial pressures being placed on social services, hospitals and schools.

He added that the transport system is far too overcrowded, while the sewage system, water and energy supplies are unsustainable.

The root cause of the problems are “decades of uncontrolled immigration” according to Whittle, and he said “I won’t flinch from addressing this important issue.” To that end, he plans to end translation services provided by the council to reinvest the money into London’s communities.

While Johnson has been very digitally-inclined, what will candidates do for the capital’s tech sector?