Caroline Pidgeon today offered Londoners “something different" when she spoke at the Liberal Democrat’s spring Party conference in York.
Highlighting her 8 years' experience as a member of the London Assembly Caroline told party members that she is in the race with “all my heart, not to ‘be’ something, but to ‘do’ something for Londoners.”
In the speech she highlighted plans to deliver more homes, police and transport schemes, reduce congestion and air pollution with a ban on lorries at peak times and helping people balance work and family life with more wraparound childcare. She also promised to campaign on a strong platform for London to remain a leading European and World city.
Caroline Pidgeon will say
“Let’s show Londoners that this Mayoral election is not about titanic egos, slugging it out. This is about the kind of city we can build, and the kind of country we want to live in.
“Let battle be joined with a fresh start – full time- in the Mayoral chair. A diverse team on the London Assembly embracing London’s place in the world. In short a Liberal London, leading Britain and a Liberal Britain leading Europe.”
This is a copy of her speech.
Check against delivery.
"Thank you Chris, and thank you Conference for that warm welcome. This is a particularly significant day for me. It’s the first day this year that I’ve left London and it’s my last day anywhere outside the M25 for the next eight weeks!
But that’s just fine by me. I’ve spent the last eight years, serving Londoners on the London Assembly. In that time, I’ve seen two Mayors come and go, and I’ve held four different Metropolitan Police Commissioners to account. I know my way round City Hall, and I’m proud, now, to be leading our Liberal Democrat team in the Mayoral and Assembly elections. Because I really believe we are the party which shares Londoners’ values.
In the two decades I’ve been campaigning in the capital, I’ve seen our city change. More tolerant. More diverse. More liberal. One of my proudest moments was seeing our capital and our country put on those fantastic London Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. London on parade as a world-class city, delivering the greatest show on earth.
Yet to hear some of the Euro---outters, banging their drums in recent weeks, you’d think that London’s great pitfall is that it is somehow too attractive. Too culturally vibrant. Too economically successful. That the sunlit uplands lie behind us, not in front. And now we have the spectacle of London’s Mayor joining their gloomy ranks.
In the past few weeks, Boris Johnson has come under fire for his self-serving calculations…as if they’re something new. Some of these journalists – gosh they’re late to the party. For eight long years, I’ve seen Boris staring vainly into the mirror, at his own ambition or, sometimes he goes up to the top floor of City Hall to squint into a telescope, trained on Number 10 hoping to see his own star rise. All of that is wasted time.
And it matters.Because charged with the huge privilege of running the world’s greatest city, he has squandered the chance to make a difference. Not bold enough on new housing. Not active enough on expanding and improving our transport system. And not nearly vigilant enough on violent crime. The result? We’re now reaching a point where, for too many people, our city just doesn’t work. A point where working in London is no guarantee of affording to live in London, where just getting to work each day is an ordeal, where young lives are cruelly lost to the tragedy of knife crime.
We just cannot go on like this. It’s my job – it’s our job – to offer Londoners a fresh start. For me, the way our city works is personal. Like so many Londoners, I've had to balance work and family. As a mother to a young son, I know all about the pressures on parents, and the need to improve childcare in our city. I know first-hand what it’s like to worry about school places. I've worked part-time so I've felt in my own pocket the way that the London fares system treats those earning least. And I've been a campaigner on housing for decades. First, working to improve homes for local people as a councillor in my home Borough of Southwark. And now pressing for more affordable homes - both to rent and to buy.
With that combination of personal and political experience, I'm proud that – without question – ours is the strongest set of policy ideas of any of the parties in this election.
- Only we, the London Liberal Democrats, have a costed, credible plan to build 50,000 council homes in the next four years.
- Only we, the London Liberal Democrats, will build 150,000 further homes to rent or buy.
- That’s 200,000 families in 200,000 new homes under the Liberal Democrats.
Our practical plan will see us set up a state-of-the-art construction academy. Skilling up the workforce, and drafting Londoners to the great Olympic effort of getting these homes built. And to make sure we deliver, we’ll set up a London Housing Company to do the building.
Because the hard truth is that the private sector is building only HALF the homes London needs. So as Liberals, we’re not scared to get involved when the market isn't working. I won’t look any Londoner in the eye, and say their hopes of a home should hang on the bottom line of a developer’s balance sheet. Just as social reformers got on and built the homes Britain needed in the 20th century, we Lib Dems will deliver them in the 21st.
Now, another area of London life over which the Mayor has so much chance to make a difference is on transport. I’ve been overwhelmed by the response from Londoners to my plans for easing overcrowding on the tube and overground system. I’m offering half price fares by half seven in the morning. It means a real saving for those people who rise with the lark to make our city tick – the cleaners, the caretakers, the teachers, the nurses. But it will also encourage travel earlier in the day, and spread demand across the morning. Pounds in the savings tin for those who travel early. And fewer of us in the sardine tin at rush hour. No wonder it even has the backing of the Evening Standard!
And I won’t rest at reforming fares. Lib Dem teams from all over the capital, but especially places like Richmond, Twickenham and Surbiton, tell me just how overcrowded and unreliable their rail services are. So I’m campaigning to sack the likes of South West Trains, Southern Railways South Eastern and Thameslink from Day One of my Mayoralty. They’ve let down Londoners for too long.
Their time is up!
As Mayor, I’d push forward investment in London’s infrastructure.Getting the second Crossrail link from South to North fully under way. Crucially, I’ll make the route really connect parts of London which have been left off the tube map for too long. I’m backing our Liberal Democrat teams from Haringey in the North to Streatham in the South, campaigning for new stations where they’ll really make a difference. In Sutton we’re campaigning to connect the Borough with Croydon’s Tramlink, easing local congestion and bringing up to 10,000 new jobs to the area. And in Southwark, we’d deliver on Simon Hughes’ huge campaign to bring the Bakerloo Line down the Old Kent Road. Taken together, our plans amount to nothing short of a rail revolution for London, and only the Liberal Democrats will deliver it.
These are all big ideas. But if I've learnt one thing in all my years of campaigning, it’s that ideas are no use without a team to communicate them. The biggest part of that team is you. Whether you've come to this Conference from Cumbria or Cornwall, from Kingston or Kilburn, I hope you’ll come out and campaign in London in the next eight weeks. And campaigning with me, isn't just campaigning for me.
We’re running one, big, united campaign for the Mayoralty and for the London Assembly. The Assembly is the part of London’s government where we've always punched above our weight. Where we've shown that Lib Dems are the party of ideas in London, and the party which get things done. That’s why I'm determined this campaign will see more Lib Dem Assembly members elected, to stand up for every community in London. And I'm proud that more Lib Dem votes in London this year will mean a London Assembly team led by three women Liberal Democrats.
With Emily Davey, our resident housing rights expert and Merlene Emerson, a community champion, who will be the first Chinese member of the London Assembly. Emily, Merlene and I are working with a strong, diverse team of candidates all across London. We’re leading the way with a third of our candidates coming from BME communities…and more than half of us are women. It’s the kind of group that we want to return in this election, and it’s the kind of parliamentary party we must have in the House of Commons after 2020!
Please give ALL our London Assembly candidates a big round of applause.
In the past few weeks, I've done what seems like dozens of hustings with the men who are my rivals for Mayor. And I tell you: our Assembly team would have them for breakfast. Take Sadiq Khan: the worst combination of Old and New Labour you’ll ever find. Old Labour instincts on finance. New Labour instincts on consistency. He plays a sort of policy hokey-cokey. Today Heathrow’s in. Tomorrow Heathrow’s out. At the General Election, a mansion tax was an essential measure for social justice. In this election, he says it’s bad for London. Today, the Garden Bridge is a white elephant. Tomorrow it’s an architectural icon. With that record, he’ll have to wear flip-flops to work at City Hall!
Conference, the Mayor’s job is not one for someone whose views change with the wind. We've got so used to having a Mayor who dangles from zip wires and dines out on dishevelment, that you might forget. The buck for our capital’s safety stops at City Hall. Since 2008, violent crime in London has soared by an astonishing 66%. It’s a shocking statistic, and all too often it has a very real, crushed, devastated human face. I've met too many families whose lives have been shattered by knife crime. And sometimes the deaths are violent accidents. Tragedies which wouldn't have happened if only young people didn't carry knives, believing they bring protection. That’s why I’ll use every ounce of influence Liberal Democrats gain at City Hall, to bring in our programme of work in schools. To dissuade people from carrying these lethal weapons, and in so doing to put a stop to these pointless, needless, dreadful deaths.
Alongside these education programmes, London also needs more police on our streets. So I can announce today, that London Liberal Democrats have worked up a costed plan to put 3000 new police officers at London’s crime hotspots. They’ll concentrate on the transport network, where all-too-many tragedies occur. They’ll tackle and deter violent crime. They’ll keep our streets, and our young people, safe. And together we’ll turn round that catastrophic legacy of soaring violence in our capital. 3000 new police officers for London, only under the Liberal Democrats.
So, I've said a lot this afternoon – too much probably – about Boris. What about the next Eton Boy? Well, the hard truth is that Zac Goldsmith’s stance on Europe just confirms he has given up. He surely knows that London can’t afford an anti-European Mayor. Frankly, I think he has found campaigning to be just a little bit like hard work. I've watched him lose heart and lose interest. So as he sits back on his laurels, he slips back in the polls. And that leaves the race wide open. I offer Londoners something different. A woman, with real experience of City Hall. In this with all my heart, not to ‘be’ something, but to ‘do’ something for Londoners.
- To deliver the homes and the transport plans I've set out
- To cut knife crime and save lives on our streets
And there’s more:
- We’ll reduce congestion and air pollution with a ban on lorries at peak times, and a new congestion zone around Heathrow.
- We’ll stop airport expansion in its tracks.
- And we’ll help people balance work and family life with more wraparound childcare.
That’s our compelling offer to London in May. But you only have to turn on the TV– or even listen to the gossip in the bar of this conference – to know that this is no ordinary time to fight an election. As the true party of internationalism. As the true party of Europe. We Liberal Democrats rightly see June’s referendum as the fight of our lives. So it’s vital we get out there now together, with our strong platform for London to remain a leading European and World city. As we knock on those doors, we will find among our voters those who share our strong pro-European values. Who, like us, refuse to be beaten by the siren voices of nationalism. Who, like us, are inspired and impassioned by the promise of an open, peaceful and enduring Europe. With your help, and with Londoners’ votes, we Liberal Democrats can keep UKIP firmly out of City Hall, and Britain firmly in the European Union.
Let’s show Londoners that this Mayoral election is not about titanic egos, slugging it out. This EU referendum is not some rung on one man’s political ladder. Both contests are bigger. They’re about the kind of city we can build, and the kind of country we want to live in. Let these battles be joined. A fresh start – full-time – in the Mayoral chair. A diverse London Assembly team, embracing London’s place in the world. Three thousand new police on our streets. A rail revolution to connect every corner of the capital. The affordable homes a generation demands In short a Liberal London, leading Britain. And a Liberal Britain, leading Europe.
Thank you very much."