Honesty in Politics

Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 28th June 2019.

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Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative

Do you believe honesty is important in politics?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Thank you, Chair. Honesty is important in politics. We should all be incredibly concerned by the direction of political debate in our country. We recently held a state visit for President Trump, a man who is known for deliberately and repeatedly lying to the public and then declaring ‘fake news’ every time he is confronted with the facts. Sadly, it appears that some politicians in Britain are trying to copy these methods, including key frontrunners to be the next leader of the Conservative Party and therefore PM of our country. This is extremely worrying, as it risks eroding even further the level of public trust in our national politics.

There is no doubt that the biggest lies and mistruths told to the British public in recent years were during the European Union (EU) referendum campaign in 2016, from the lie that if we leave the EU the NHS will get £300 million more per week, to the misleading statement that Turkey would join the EU. These falsehoods and many others were repeatedly voiced by Boris Johnson [MP], Michael Gove [MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] and other senior members of the Conservative Party.  I am sure all Assembly Members would agree that this was both wrong and deeply irresponsible.

I am pleased that at City Hall we are taking a different approach, delivering change for our city whilst being honest with Londoners. We said we would make tackling air pollution and climate change a key priority and we are now taking the boldest action of any city in the world. This includes the introduction of the world-leading ULEZ this year [2019] and declaring a climate emergency in London.

We said to Londoners that it would be impossible to solve the housing crisis overnight, but we are now laying the foundations to fix the mess we inherited. This includes starting to build more council homes last year [2018/19] than in any year since 1984, giving residents and tenants the right to vote on estate regeneration plans, and doubling our homelessness outreach teams.

We said we would make transport more affordable for millions of Londoners. We have made sure that TfL fares have been frozen for the third year running and we have introduced the unlimited Hopper bus fare.

We said we would implement a long-term public health approach to tackle violent crime and that is exactly what we are doing with England’s first Violence Reduction Unit, the £45 million Young Londoners Fund, which is creating opportunities for young Londoners to fulfil their potential, and our City Hall-funded Violent Crime Task Force.

I could go on but I want to give the Assembly Member a chance to respond.

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

Assembly Member Bacon?

Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative

Thank you, Chair. That was a good attempt at guessing where I was going to go with my supplementary, Mr Mayor, but you were not quite on the right track.

On 2 June [2019] you gave an interview to Niall Paterson at Sky News. He asked you, “To what extent then is it a matter of personal regret to you that London is less safe than when you took the job?” You responded, “It is not less safe. That is the first thing”, and then you talked about the various things that you were doing. I thought, “That is interesting”, and so I had a look at the Metropolitan Police Service’s (MPS) statistics. In 2015/16, for example, there were 21,361 robberies recorded. Last year there were 35,216, which is an increase of 65%.

In that light, Mr Mayor, do you think that stating that London is not less safe than when you took over was an honest thing to say?

Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative

You do? That is extraordinary.

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

I am very happy to have a discussion on the definition of robbery, actually, but it depends which metrics you use to measure safety. You measure with metrics, Chair, in relation to ‑‑

Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative

Let us give you another one, then, Mr Mayor ‑‑

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

No. Have you finished your answer to the question?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

I have not, Chair. I have not. We all want to be Jeremy Paxman [broadcaster]. Let me answer the question.

It depends which metrics you use to measure safety. It could be robbery. It could be ‑‑

Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative

These are MPS statistics, Mr Mayor, that are published and available online.

Photo of Jennette Arnold Jennette Arnold Labour

Have you finished the answer, Mr Mayor?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

I am quite clear that, as far as London is concerned, we are a safe city. Of course I am concerned about any incident of personal injury to a Londoner. We are doing what we can, though, to keep our city safe.

Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative

OK. I have another statistic for you, then, which is an MPS statistic. In 2015/16, there were 9,704 recorded knife crimes and last year there were 15,003, which is an increase of 55%.

Do you think that stating that London is not less safe than when you took over was an honest thing to say?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

We are safer.  I will give you one example where you can measure success in relation to the progress we are making to deal with terrorism. We are making big progress there ‑‑

Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative

I did not ask about terrorism.

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

‑‑ and also in relation to homicides and in relation to under-25s who are injured by knife crime. It depends which metrics you use. We can go around in circles in relation to this. There are some metrics where we are doing less well than before I became Mayor and some metrics where we are doing better.

There is also the context nationally and internationally. For example, you can look at what is happening ‑‑

Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative

Sorry, I am not asking about national crime.  I am asking about crime in London, which the Mayor is responsible for dealing with. Another statistic, Mr Mayor: in 2015/16 there were 1,804 gun crimes, according to the MPS, and last year there were 2,342, which is an increase of 30%.

Again, do you think that saying that London is not less safe now than when you took over was an honest thing to say?

Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative

You do? Gun crime is up, robbery is up, knife crime is up, rape is up, taking motor vehicle offences are up, residential burglary is up, knife crime with injury is up and knife crime with injury and robbery is up, and you think honestly that London is more safe now than when you took over as Mayor of London?

Photo of Gareth Bacon Gareth Bacon Conservative

That is absolutely extraordinary. Thank you very much.