Pi Newspaper | December 2011
I can see a whole range of changes
that I helped to achieve because I took that decision. We need people outside the mainstream stridently campaigning for gay rights. We also need someone inside introducing civil partnerships and so on.
Q: You just mentioned gay
rights. You set up Britain’s first register for same-sex couples. UCL’s LGBT society will be interested to know what work you think is left to do in ensuring equality for members of the LGBT community.
A: Well, of course in somewhere
like London or San Francisco the answer is nothing like as much as most of the rest of the world. Still in most of the world you can still be executed or put in prison for being homosexual. We have to continue to challenge that. The biggest concentration of homophobic regimes are those that were once part of the British Empire because the homophobic laws we had enshrined in Britain were applied across the whole Empire, and they were really quite grim. There’s a huge amount of work to do, but it’s broadly to help lesbian and gay groups across the world.
Q: Why do you think you lost
the last election? A: Because Boris Johnson got
more votes than I did. I mean, it was the worst possible time. The British economy had just entered a recession. In the Budget five weeks before polling day they abolished the 10p tax plan, so the poorest people still in work desperately holding onto their jobs instead of going on benefits suddenly saw their tax bill go up. It was, I think, the final straw of
the Labour government that hadn’t restored any power to trade unions, hadn’t built council housing, had Peter Mandelson saying relax about the filthy rich or whatever it was. Working-class people were saying “What is this government doing for me?” And that was a very difficult
| 15 politics
Politics Roundup US KILLS 24 IN
US helicopters killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in an attack on two military outposts on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border last month, throwing relations between the two nations into a new crisis. US officials claim that their counterparts had agreed to the strike, intended to hit a Taliban training camp on the border. The Pakistani government for its part has demanded an apology for what it believes was a deliberate assault. Pakistan says the bombardment continued for two hours despite a loal commander making radio contact with the Americans and pleading with them to stop. The attack has newly strained
Above: City Hall, the Mayor’s HQ. Below: Pi’s politics editors deep in discussion.
question to answer. My polling figures and the
Labour Party’s just went off a cliff after that budget. We clawed a lot of it back and I ran 13 per cent ahead of the Labour Party, but that wasn’t enough. Also Boris Johnson is the most formidable opponent I’ve ever faced. He is Britain’s Berlusconi, he gets away with murder. Oh, what a loveable rogue. And if he becomes prime minister, as he intends to, like Berlusconi I’m certain he’ll bankrupt the country.
Q: What is your personal
opinion of Boris, regardless of policy?
A: I think it’s deplorable that
someone has got the second-best job in English politics and doesn’t do it. His efforts are entirely focused on simply getting re-elected, getting back into Parliament and succeeding David Cameron in the struggle against Osborne. There’s so much you can do. London, which everyone thought had overtaken New York and become the most successful great world city at
Q: So you stand by your saying
that it’s a simple choice between good and evil?
A: That was a joke. Boris is far
too lazy to be an example of pure evil. The devil works very hard. If you go and read Boris’ reports at Eton it comes over very strongly his tutors saying if only he worked harder he’d
manipulating the media so he comes across as cuddly Boris.
the end of my years, everybody now thinks is losing ground and falling backwards. All the polling says people think
London is becoming a worse place to live. That is a pretty damning indictment of the Mayor, but he’s never available for interview on a serious topic. It’s still all about
“Boris is far too lazy to be pure evil. The
devil works very hard”
achieve so much more. He’s taking the same approach to the mayoralty. That’s why he’s putting fares up when he doesn’t need to.
Q: Should you win, what
changes would we actually see on a day-to-day basis?
A: The first thing is there would
be a fares cut which would put £200 a year back in the average traveller’s pocket. We’ll restore the cuts in frontline policing. A whole range of new measures: start building housing, crack down on bad landlords, re-start the environmental agenda. We should be making every
building in this city energy-efficient then you can cut London’s carbon emissions by 60 per cent over the next 20 years. I want to make London once again a place where everyone wants to come, where the most innovative things are happening. And for those of you interested
in live music, we’re going to put on a music expo once a year. It’s an idea I’ve stolen from the mayor of Austin in Texas, where it generates $95 million dollars for the city. Imagine what we could do here where we’ve got more live music venues than the next four cities put together!
Q: Finally, on a lighter note,
could you briefly explain your passion for newts and why you are so passionate about them?
A: I was a very nerdy boy. I had a
general contempt for politicians when I was a kid and I really wanted to be the second David Attenborough. The problem was I only met one girl who collected reptiles and amphibians and she was already seeing someone, so it was a very sterile hobby.
Look out for more election coverage in Pi Newspaper in the coming months.
relations between the two powers, supposed allies in the war against the Taliban. Pakistan has refused to participate in an inquiry into the attack, which Nato called “tragic unintended incident”. In September, outgoing US joint chiefs of staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen claimed Pakistan was offering covert support for Nato’s enemies in Afghanistan.
BRITISH EMBASSY STORMED IN IRAN
Britain has closed its embassy in Iran after the embassy was stormed by a government-backed mob last week. The ambassador and his satff were forced to hide in safe rooms in the embassy while a mob of Iranians including the government Basij militia rampaged through the embassy, shouting “Death to Britain” and tearing up pictures of the Queen. In response, the Government
has closed the embassy and expelled several diplomats from the Iranian embassy in London. Dominic Chilcott, Britain’s former ambassador to Iran, said that he believed the attack on the embassy had been organised with government backing. “Iran is not the sort of country where spontaneously a demonstration congregates then attacks a foreign embassy,” he said.
UN CALLS FOR ACTION ON SYRIA
The United Nations has called for “urgent and effective measures” to protect the Syrian people from “ruthless repression”. Since the Arab Spring protests began in February this year, it is estimated that over 4,000 Syrians have been killed by government forces, among them 307 children. Russia and China warned that the
remarks of Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, should not be taken as a pretext for military intervention in Syria.
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