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"Luisa Porritt for London": An Analysis

Luisa Porritt (Liberal Democrat) will be running for election for the Mayor of London on the 6th May 2021. Porritt will be one of many candidates running against Sadiq Khan (Labour), the current Mayor of London who will be seeking re-election. Here we consider Porritt’s manifesto and her plans for the city, should she win the election. Her campaign website focuses on three main policy areas which are housing, the high street and environmental issues, as well as noting two issues upon which the Liberal Democrats are currently campaigning on: Grenfell and fire safety in housing, and free transport for under 18s.



Housing


  • Homes In The Heart Of The City”

  • Turn un-used office space in the heart of London into affordable housing.

  • Use “special powers” from the government to “breathe new life” into the city centre and create affordable housing.


Homes in the Heart of the City is Porritt’s flagship policy, and if elected Mayor she aims to take advantage of the shift towards flexible working since the beginning of the pandemic to tackle London’s housing crisis. As a millennial herself, Porritt claims she understands the housing crisis well and understands the need to make housing more affordable for young people in a city where costs are rising exponentially.


Porritt has also said the “dynamics” of the city are changing due to coronavirus, and this plan is a chance to build on that change. For many young people in London, renting and getting on the property ladder can be challenging, so this could be an attractive policy to young voters.


Porritt is also supporting the Liberal Democrats’ movement to “end the cladding scandal” and resolve issues to do with fire safety in housing brought up by the Grenfell tragedy of 2017, and it is likely if elected she will aim to work with the government on this as Mayor.



Re-inventing the High Street


  • Focus on local communities and neighbourhood areas.

  • Create “Co-working spaces” where people can work closer to home, rather than in offices in the city

  • New cafes and bars

  • Re-open local police stations

  • Build youth centres in local areas

  • Ensure each borough of the city retains its own identity and individuality


Building upon the flexible working idea again, this policy is fairly pragmatic and considers a change in attitudes which may see people spending more time in their local areas, as well as more professionals working from their own boroughs rather than travelling into offices in central London.

This may appeal to young voters given their adaptability in terms of working in the last year and investing in new workspaces close to home may be a popular idea. Porritt hopes that a focus on individual boroughs will re-invent communities and neighbourhoods in London and create distinct identities of local areas across the city.



A Green Roadmap


  • Invest in electric vehicle charging points

  • Adopt World Health Organisation standards for clean air into law

  • Make all London buses “green”

  • Scrap the Silvertown Tunnel project (a £2 billion plan to build a new road in East London)

  • Invest in better, safer cycle routes

  • Schemes to encourage cycling


Greater environmental protection is certainly a salient issue for young voters, so a comprehensive green agenda may appeal well to this voter group. Although these are fairly standard green aims, Porritt claims London is falling behind other major cities and needs a Green Roadmap to remain innovative and ahead of the trend in terms of facing the climate emergency.



Transport


  • Liberal Democrats are currently calling on the government and Transport for London (TfL) to reinstate free travel for under-18s.

  • If elected Mayor, Porritt is likely to call on the government and TfL to reconsider scrapping free travel for young people, arguing young Londoners need free travel to get to and from school in an environmentally responsible way.


As Liberal Democrats are currently focusing on reinstating free bus travel for young people, Porritt is likely to spearhead this campaign if elected Mayor. Travel is pricey in the capital and this is a key issue to begin with focusing on in terms of transport plans, allowing young people to move more freely about the city.



Analysis


Luisa Porritt’s campaign focuses mainly on housing and transforming the city in line with the significant changes COVID-19 has brought about. She certainly aims to tackle key issues for young people by focusing on the housing crisis and the climate emergency. She could be a real contender in the election.


Fran Robson, Policy and News Analysis Associate.


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