What we're trying to do
We want to start a party which will stand up for London and Londoners.
We believe that London is a distinct polity with its own values and its own priorities which are not being addressed by the major national parties. We need our own voice, just as Scotland has and Wales has.
We will campaign for ever greater autonomy for London and an ever greater say for Londoners over decisions that affect us: how our city is run and how our taxes are spent. Most urgently, we want more of the taxes paid by London to be used to fix the housing crisis our city faces and has faced for far too long.
We will offer progressive, practical politics that Londoners can be proud of and benefit from.
Why we're doing it
As a global city, London has a different perspective to the rest of the country. London makes a huge contribution to the national economy and exchequer. But our voices are not being heard.
England has not voted for governments that are good for London or that reflect London's values. We want the decisions made about children's future to be made in our city, by our own people.
Every year Londoners pay 32 billion pounds more in tax than are spent on their community (source). That is one pound in five that we pay in taxes. But contrary to popular opinion, London isn't richer than everywhere else. Once you take into account the cost of housing in different parts of the country, Londoners are earning less than the national average (source).
London has a housing crisis because UK politicians like spending our taxes on national battleground issues that aren't high up Londoners' list of priorities. And they can get away with it because, until now, London has lacked a distinct voice.
Housing isn't the only area that has been bled. Crime has been growing alarmingly against a backdrop of police cuts. Since 2013 the Metropolitan Police have been forced to make 600 million pounds in cuts to their annual budget. By 2021 they are expected to find another 440 million pounds of cuts. In total that represents a third of their current budget. (source)
We are a prosperous city but that prosperity is not being used to fix big problems that affect our lives every day.
We think that needs to change.
How will we make a difference
First and foremost, we will make a difference by standing candidates in local and national elections who can represent and advocate for London, and by campaigning to get them elected. We want to find candidates who are both passionate and practical, and who represent the best of our city's talent and the breadth of its diversity.
The quality of candidates should be key to our mission. London is not a place where you get the job because your face fits or you know the jargon. The UK has imposed a politics of crackpots and middling careerists on London. We can do much better than that.
But even if we don't get our candidates elected, just by being there and making a noise, we can change the conversation. We can get the national parties to start listening to London. We should aim to have no safe seat in London for the two national parties.
And we will make a difference by giving Londoners a greater sense of their city as a distinct and cohesive polity.
What we stand for
We want to build a party along the lines of the SNP and Plaid Cymru - but for London and Londoners. The population of London is as big as Scotland and Wales combined. The intention is not to create an independence movement - though we certainly believe that London could prosper as an independent city-state - but to stand up for London in the national conversation.
We will stand for the principles of federalism and subsidiarity.
- Federalism means that the national government only has the power that the regions it governs consent to give it. It means that London cannot be swept along by the rest of the country in a direction it does not agree with.
- Subsidiarity means that we only consent to hand power up to the national government when necessary. In the UK, decision-making is far more centralized than in most other developed nations. We want this to change.
But these aims don't mean much unless we have a vision for what we want a freer, more independent London to become.
We will stand for an entrepreneurial London. We want Londoners to take their ideas and their ambition and make a global success of them. For that opportunity to be open to everyone, we need to invest in education and infrastructure. We need a safety net so you don't need to be rich to take a risk. Making the most of our talent is good for the whole city.
We will stand for a diverse London. We don't believe that diversity is just something to be tolerated; it is something to be celebrated. We will promote and protect our city's diversity. We will stand a roster of candidates who represent it. But we have to recognize that a diverse community can be fragile. We have hard work to do to build a community where people who are different can be neighbours and friends.
We will stand for a livable London. We want London to be a place where people want to be, where they can go out and enjoy the city, where they can settle and raise families. We want to do that so London can continue to draw talent from across the world. But really we want to do that because we want life to be better for the Londoners who are already here.
How will we do it
We are trying to raise a lot of money here. And, honestly, we don't have detailed plans for how to spend it. The real aim is to find out if the support is there to make this happen. Running an electable political party is an expensive business. Last year (2017) Plaid Cymru raised £1,200,00 and the Green Party raised nearly £2,500,000 (source). The money we are trying to raise here is a step toward that ballpark.
If this seems aggressive - it is. The electoral system in the UK, the media landscape, the political culture, all make it really hard for new parties to gain a foothold. If we can't make a splash, we are going to bounce off. Londoners are busy people and we don't want our time with something that's not going to work. We are setting an aggressive target because it's the only one worth setting.
The money is only part of what we're asking for though. No political party is going to be a success unless people are willing to get involved. Even if we make the monetary target, we are going to need to people to stand us candidates, to set up databases, to stuff envelopes and knock on doors. So pledge money (please!) but think about what time and skills you can offer as well.
So, in this spirit, if we make our goal, we will throw it open to those who pledged money how to move forward. The only expense that seems non-negotiable is the cost to register a political party - currently £150 (source). Exactly what that party is called, and how we use the rest of the war chest, should be decided by our pledgers. That means you need to step up, share your ideas and get involved in making that process happen. The outcome of that consultation should be a party constitution and a spending plan to be passed by a straight up-or-down majority vote by all you who pledge money.