The London Green Party fired the starting gun on its City Hall campaign this morning at a launch with a difference – outdoors in Regent’s Park by the Lion Vase, more properly the Griffin Tazza, a striking large stone bowl supported by four winged lions, or griffins.
With the griffin representing both courage and leadership, it was perhaps an appropriate setting perhaps for London Mayor candidate and the Greens’ national co-leader Sian Berry to formally begin making her third tilt at the mayoralty with an uncompromising message that incumbent Sadiq Khan had “failed to be green when it most mattered”.
Mayor Khan had backed expansion plans at Gatwick and London City airports and is spending a billion pounds on the “toxic urban motorway tunnel” at Silvertown, she told an audience of Green London Assembly candidates and assorted journalists. Berry, who is already an AM, will be defending her Assembly seat as well as running for Mayor.
She said Khan’s climate emergency declaration had come only after Green AM Caroline Russell had won Assembly support for the declaration in 2018, she said. “He failed to act when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change rang the alarm on the climate emergency in 2018 and has had to be dragged every step of the way by Greens at City Hall. The Greens have led the way and saved the day”.
While Khan’s response to last year’s Extinction Rebellion climate change protestors had been to tell them to let London return to “business as usual”, she added, “we all know that business as usual isn’t the answer. The climate emergency threatens all of our futures. Only the Greens are proven and can be trusted to do what needs to be done.”
There was a wider message too, from Berry and her fellow Green candidates, as she promised action to support private renters and the promotion of a “re-use and repair” economy, and pledged to tackle “cold, damp and mouldy homes”, to introduce “lower and flatter fares”, to return to “policing by consent”, and to challenge the capital’s “rampant, toxic inequality”. In Berry’s words, Green are intent on changing the ”whole character of London life and the London economy.”
The launch saw the unveiling of a full slate of Green Assembly candidates – ahead of Labour, which is still concluding its selection process, as Berry noted. With climate change issues increasingly prominent in the mayoral campaigns, Labour candidate Khan is pledging to spend £50 million on a “green new deal” for the capital and pitching directly to Green Party supporters to “lend” him their votes “so I can stand up for our shared values on the environment”.
Berry rebutted Khan’s “two-horse race” claim that only he or Tory contender Shaun Bailey would be taking up City Hall residence after the May 7 poll. “This election is different – you can put a Green as your first choice without risk,” she said. “London is ready for a real Green Mayor.”
Photograph of Siân Berry at this morning’s launch by Charles Wright.
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