Step up to the planet: Shahrar Ali for Green London Mayoral and Assembly List Candidate
In 2020, London will go to the polls to elect a new Mayor and members of the London Assembly. The London Green Party are now in the process of selecting their candidates for those elections. Bright Green is offering every candidate seeking selection an opportunity to tell our readers why they should be selected. One of these candidates is Shahrar Ali, and this is what he has to say:
The Most Pressing Issues Facing London
Climate Change is the most pressing issue facing London. It’s the most pressing issue facing humanity – globally. It should make Brexit look like a side show.
That’s why I am asking voters to look beyond the daily challenges that affect or afflict their lives – whether health, housing, education, policing or transport – and consider the fact that we are the last generation able to do something to stop the rot of melting ice caps, rising sea levels and unprecedented global temperature leading to mass species extinction.
I realise it’s a daunting proposition but there really is no alternative but radical mass mobilisation across every sphere of life. As a founding signatory to Extinction Rebellion, I will support direct action and as Mayor of London I will help lead step change across the capital.
We need to Step up to the Planet!
How I would tackle these as Mayor of London
Let’s be ambitious for our Party – we are the only true solution to the call for radical politics and social transformation.
As Green Mayor for an Assembly of 25 Green Members we would be able to exercise considerable power over planning, the economy, policing, transport and housing. At the moment, politics is typified by one step forward and two, even three steps back. Green advances, significant though they are – whether on the London Living Wage or cycle superhighways – get swallowed up by carbon emissions through road building, airport expansion or fracking and so aren’t enough without dramatic systemic change.
We must move to carbon-based models of currency instead of economic growth like there’s no tomorrow. We have to move away from over consumption like there’s no tomorrow; and instead to live within our means.
The City I envisage will be a trailblazer in transition town movements and networks, building resilience in local food through emergency planning for allotments and resilience in our economy by shifting towards local community currencies – such as the Brixton Pound.
Such initiatives might sound alien and unsellable but it would be my role to help make them credible and realistic initiatives and catalysts for yet greater step change. The City I envisage is a genuine community of good.
We will not turn away migrants – if only out of self-preservation, as we will be the new migrants before long.
Why I would be the best candidate for the Green Party
Our campaign starts now! As a candidate in four previous Assembly campaigns, and a lead candidate in the last, I am well familiar with the cut and thrust of an energetic Green campaign and helping to get others elected.
As our Mayoral candidate, I would push and promote the climate emergency in hustings, interviews and speeches. I’ve even gone toe-to-toe with Sadiq Khan live on BBC election debate. He barely acknowledged me before the debate but was keen to shake my hand afterwards.
At every event I will seek to elevate the Greens’ analysis and vision – so that we are impossible to ignore and become game-changers. As former deputy leader, author of two books on green politics and lead author for 2008 GLA manifesto, I am fluent in articulating the goals that define and ideas that underpin our radical politics.
City Hall under my stewardship would become a beacon of political debate and generator of initiatives for radical climate action.
How I can increase the Green vote share in the election
By winning over hearts and minds.
As a national spokesperson, I’m a regular speaker on the political circuit, whether at anti-racism demonstrations in Whitehall or free speech festivals or the launch of an environmental leadership programme for BME youth leaders see.
You need a speaker who can pack a punch at a public meeting or engage in rational persuasion on his feet over the airwaves. I see us as a radical party that can appeal to voters across the political spectrum (well maybe not UKIP in Tommy Robinson mould). Having recruited candidates myself from all other political parties, I’m acutely aware of our appeal and know we mustn’t undersell ourselves.
We face particular challenges following the David Challenor scandal. Simply to unequivocally condemn evil-doing without tying ourselves in knots about reputational risk should not be so difficult.
Rightly or wrongly, that scandal kick-started a wider debate in the party about our trans policy. It’s been a time of unfortunate conflict. I want to do what I can to encourage civilised debate, including in City Hall itself, with all key stakeholders affected by potential reform of the GRA.
We ignore voters on all sides of the debate at our electoral peril.
Priorities for the Mayoral election campaign
Climate Action should frame everything we do.
I’d like to see a manifesto which majors on that – unapologetically – and explains the joined-up leadership we can bring to jolt us out of our collective sleepwalking into planetary oblivion.
If somebody retorts, “It’s the economy, stupid,” we’ll be the ones to explain how it’s the stupid economy that will lead to our ultimate downfall. We can’t eat or breathe the economy – although we will make sure that everybody has their basic needs met, in a society where all are treated with dignity, respect and equality.
We need to Step up to the Planet!
Shahrar Ali was Deputy Leader of the Green Party of England and Wales from 2014-2016. Upon his election, he became the first BAME Deputy Leader of a parliamentary political party in the UK. He was unsuccessful in his re-election bid in 2016. Ali stood for the leadership of the party in 2018, coming second to Sian Berry and Jonathan Bartley. He has been the party’s Home Affairs spokesperson and in 2015 published the book ‘Why Vote Green’.
Articles from all candidates can be found here.