London Mayoral hustings: Policing dominates debate


London’s Black communities left the Mayoral candidates with no doubt what area of governance needed radical change: Policing; particularly, Black deaths in custody; disproportionate levels of Stop and Search; and growing levels of racism recently exposed within the Metropolitan police.

The Black Britain Decides event, organised by Church leaders and Operation Black Vote had a global audience of millions thanks to the excellent coverage of OH TV, including the 500-600 who turned up on the night, and hundreds engaging on Twitter.

The political candidates acutely aware that the Black vote could be the deciding factor in this very tight contest responded accordingly.

Conservative candidate Boris Johnson seemed visible shocked by the number of Black men who had died in police custody, ‘I had no idea that the levels were so high’, he said, ‘if I’m re-elected, I will instigate a full inquiry into these deaths’. Johnson also added that he had written to the Home Secretary about pursuing the other men who were involved in the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

Former Mayor, Ken Livingstone poured scorn on Johnson’s record of engagement with the Black community, highlighting that in the, ‘Conservative candidate's manifesto, he does not mention Black communities once, except when he is talking about crime’.

Green candidate Jenny Jones told the vibrant audience that, ‘cameras in police vans would eliminate the racism that we know goes on’.

Liberal Democrat candidate and the former police superintendent Brian Paddick seemed most in tune with the audience’s mood in regards policing. ‘I’ve been arguing for a very long time the need to dramatically cut the levels of Stop and Search towards young Black men. It’s not effective and it alienates the community’, he stated to cheers from the audience.

However, policing was not the only issue on the agenda. All the candidates agreed to my suggestion that they would raise 10 million from the Bankers to put into after-school clubs and business hubs run by faith groups and community centres. The high cost of child care too was an area that was blighting Black families from getting out of poverty.

It was not an easy event to put together, particularly in such a short space of time, but I for one am pleased that it occurred. The candidates, in no small measure, were held to account and began at least to respond to the concerns of Black Londoners. Not unlike myself, Bishop Wayne Malcolm told the audience that the key to the evening was not the candidates but an empowered Black community which would engage today, voting day and thereafter. My own articulation was a little cruder: ‘Don’t trust politicians,' I said, ‘trust yourselves'. This was a robust conversation for an empowered black community. But it’s not about the candidates – this is about our community being strong together.’

Lastly, if you haven’t already registered to vote you still have two days.

Here's how:

Simon Woolley

Archived Comments

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People say all politicians are the same - is that because the same people always vote?

Thank you OBV; event decided my vote. I am now backing Paddick.

I would like to thank OBV for organising the event and for giving me the chance to see and hear the key Mayoral candidates in action. It was really helpful to me and ultimately decided my vote. That is as it should be in a democracy. As a direct result of attending the hustings, and seeing and hearing what the candidates had to offer, I have switched my own vote from Ken Livingstone to Brian Paddick.

Brian's pitch really appealed to me. It is very true that he has consistently spoken out about issues that he believes in, at a personal cost to his career; ultimately he prematurely ended his career with the Metropolitan Police by speaking out on the Jean Charles de Menezes case. He says what he thinks and stands up for what he believes to be right. He talked about the issues that are closest to my heart - stop and search, gangs, knife crime and young people - and offered a workable solution, which was inclusive of all communities and involved working with communities and young people. He spoke passionately about wanting to give young people a positive alternative to gangs. I liked his statement about young people being "overpoliced and underprotected". And he is right that his record speaks for itself in that he has always stood up for diversity and Black communities against the establishment and has paid the price for doing so.

Also, being an openly gay man, at one time the United Kingdom's most senior openly gay police officer, he knows what it is like to be "other"; to be discriminated against and to be hated; to have to take on prejudice and fight it every day; that gives him a unique insight amongst the candidates. And I don't believe that being a woman is the same; women make up half the population and although they face discrimination they do not face hatred from certain quarters.

For the whole story, which includes a FULL write-up of the event, with a write-up of the pitches of ALL the candidates, follow the link:

eye is a gunshot survivor who use 2B a good boxER

like a meeting with u lot 2 stop violence amongst the youngstars.

eye is a gunshot survivor who use 2B a good boxER

like a meeting with u lot 2 stop violence amongst the youngstars.

OBV Hustings

I agree with everyone about the hustings but why was the only BME Candidate Siobhan Benita was not even at the top table and she isn't even seated with the other candidates.

I may vote for Ms Benita, simply because she is an independent. because those who elect the same people with the same behaviours time and time again deserve not one iota of my sympathy. If one of those four idiots get in, it will be the same rubbish again of broken promises and willful indifference, getting privilges they don't deserve, while the rest of us struggle.

At least with Ms Benita, there is an oppurtunity for something new.