Why Boris Johnson is by far the best choice for Londoners

Allister Heath
TOMORROW is decision time for Londoners. Our great city is at a crossroads: it must choose who to elect as its mayor at a time of extreme economic uncertainty and just months before the Olympics, when the eyes of the world will be on London. Having carefully examined all the candidates, this newspaper believes that Boris Johnson is by far the best candidate and that he deserves to be given a second term in City Hall. We hope our readers will agree and give him their votes.

City A.M. is in nobody’s pocket. We are an independent newspaper and were critical of Johnson during the riots. We also wish he would have done more to reform Transport for London. We will support whoever wins when we agree with their policies and criticise them when we disagree – and we will always judge them by whether their actions are helping or hindering the public interest, prosperity and economic growth, and Londoners’ quality of life.

But Johnson understands the vital importance of private firms, entrepreneurs and the City in creating jobs and prosperity for Londoners. He is an optimistic, pro-growth, pro-risk taking candidate; he is excited by life and all of its opportunities, unlike his dour, bitter and negative rival. He is a unifying candidate, an individualist and believer in individual freedom for whom people’s backgrounds are not their all-defining characteristic: he has rightly refused to play divide and conquer politics with race, religion or class. He understands that a low tax, open economy is what will make London great once more.

Above all else, Boris is authentic: he doesn’t pretend to be someone he isn’t. He has also been a relatively good steward of taxpayers’ money; he rightly froze the Mayoral share of council tax over the past three years and wants to cut it by 10 per cent over the next four. He understands that belt-tightening and cutting waste is necessary in the current climate.

By contrast, Livingstone is a class warrior, a throwback to a bygone era; he may like to “joke” that we should “hang a banker a week until the others improve” but few readers of this newspaper will see the funny side. Hundreds of thousands work in banking, wealth management and financial services – or in industries that depend closely on them, such as accounting, law, consulting, recruitment, IT, property and a host of other services. Ken also falls short on his attitude to public money, which he would spend too profligately, and on tax, which his instinct would be to hike. The last thing we need is a Mayor at war with the coalition, creating division on every issue where there needs to be cooperation and judicious, level-headed negotiation to ensure London gets the best deal.

Livingstone’s one attractive pledge is to cut the price of public transport. Even if he could deliver it – and this is highly doubtful – it would come at the cost of slashing investment in infrastructure. We have tried that strategy before, with governments cutting back on capital spending and using the cash on benefits instead – which is the reason for today’s inadequate network.

Even if you can’t bring yourself to vote for either of the two candidates as your first preference, you can still make a vital choice by making Boris your second preference candidate. Ask yourselves – who do you think would be best placed to represent London during the Olympics and the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations? To bat for London when fighting for foreign direct investment and attracting global job-creators? To speak up for readers of this newspaper? In every case, Boris has the edge. He deserves a second term on Thursday.

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