My New Year Resolution: Let’s give London its Liberal voice

London has always felt like a Liberal city. We are welcoming, diverse, creative and tolerant. We are an internationalist world-class city open for learning and innovative business in or out of the EU. Recent research by the political scientist, Sir John Curtice*, concluded “London looks very different from the rest of the country”. A third of Londoners (34%) are socially liberal, compared with just 19% of those in urban areas outside the capital.

So now is the time for a Liberal surge in the city. We had one after the referendum when London voted 59.9% to remain and the LibDems topped the tables in the next European elections. We can do it again.

And now with London’s Business and Economic leaders openly highlighting the problems with Brexit it only seems right that London is ready for a stronger, Liberal voice who will fight for better relations with Europe.

Neither Labour nor Conservatives can offer a convincing voice on Europe and London must remain the leading European city it always has been whatever our short-term relations with the EU.

Our current Mayor may talk the talk but his own party leader timidly contradicts his words and his actions. With Labour looking more likely to be the largest party at the next election and the Conservatives drowning in their own disastrous handling of the economy, now is our time to bring change and reflect the true Liberal voice of London. Even Labour voters have tired of Sadiq Khan. He is battling his own political colleagues over the ULEZ expansion and development of the Silvertown tunnel. And Starmer’s lilly-livered positioning on immigration is not helping win over liberal Londoners who are keen to see the City offering flexible international recruitment.

Despite the Tories’ backward step of the mayoral elections now being first past the post, people want to see a change for our City, a radical, and exciting future ahead that appeals to all Londoners, young and old, all backgrounds, all voices.

Councils across London have seen a boost of Liberal Democrats being elected in the last local elections. The party gained 224 new councillors across the UK, including 23 in London – centred around the so-called ‘golden crescent’ in Lib Dem led Richmond, Sutton and Kingston. Voters in Merton demonstrated this as Conservative and Labour seats fell and the Lib Dems gained 12 new councillors – making our group the borough’s official opposition. Seats were also picked up in the Labour held boroughs of Brent, Croydon and Lambeth, as well as Tory-run Bromley.

The London Assembly is the “voice of London” and will be elected based on proportional representation which means every vote counts and every voice counts. With the Office for National Statistics publishing figures that London will be is now more ethnically diverse than ever, we need to make sure we are electing Assembly members who can represent the values and aspirations of a great Liberal city. These are exciting times and we need to be ready to lead. It’s time London’s Liberal values are heard. With the fears that levelling up means London is levelling down, Londoners now more than ever wants to be heard. So this year, let’s make London’s liberal heart beat faster and its Liberal voice louder.

* Sir John Curtice, is a senior fellow at the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), a survey revealed the most socially liberal views were far more prevalent in London. A third of Londoners (34%) are socially liberal, compared with just 19% of those in urban areas outside the capital. According to NatCen researchers “London looks very different from the rest of the country.”

* Hina Bokhari is a Liberal Democrat member of the London Assembly.

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10 Comments

  • People may be socially liberal, but do they see the Liberal Democrats as the most likely to deliver a more socially liberal society?

  • nigel hunter 29th Dec '22 - 9:34pm

    We would have to show/prove that the party is the social liberal party that London AND the country needs.

  • David Le Grice 30th Dec '22 - 1:17am

    Unfortunately the people of London seem to have little interest in us. We are doing well in southwest London because it is demographically more similar to lib Dem leaning parts of the home countries than to the rest of London.
    Elsewhere we seem to be continuing to decline. At this year’s local elections we took significant losses in the former libdem constituencies of Southwark and hornsey and wood green, ZERO seats in Westminster and Finchley which we nearly won in 2019 along with zero in Islington which used to control and had nearly won a constituency in 2005 and 2010.

    Overall picture is that left leaning Londoners are very content to vote labour and would sooner switch to the greens than vote for us, whilst Tory voters will only switch to us in significant numbers in the south west.

    Even our success in south west London hasn’t stopped us coming fourth behind the greens in mayoral and assembly elections.

    If we want to win in London it does no good to just coo on here about how liberal Londoners supposedly are; the London regional party would have to really think outside of the box and put in a crazy amount of effort if we actually want London to vote liberal.

  • Nonconformistradical 30th Dec '22 - 10:12am

    @Martin
    “One might have presumed that Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford would have provided Ed Davey with a hard-edged understanding of the foundations of Modern (social) Liberalism, but if so he seems timidly reluctant to articulate it.”

    Could it just be that studying PPE (at Oxford anyway) might really be primarily a grounding for budding tory politicians?

  • Anthony Acton 30th Dec '22 - 12:33pm

    The problem is not just for London. Something is surely very wrong nationally for the LibDems to be doing do badly in the polls at a time when the Conservatives are at record lows. That takes some doing. I fear nothing much will change until a leader emerges who can connect with the electorate and articulate at least one policy which matters to them.

  • James Fowler 30th Dec '22 - 2:04pm

    It’s odd, but London has never been very receptive to the Liberal Party at any point in history. Perhaps the single exception was 1889-1907 when the LCC was controlled by (radical) Liberals, but as many of them then went on to join Labour it’s tempting to see the LCC more as a municipal testing ground for socialism rather than a bastion of liberalism.

  • Chris Moore 30th Dec '22 - 4:07pm

    I studied PPE at Oxford a few decades ago.

    You studied all three the first year and could then drop one, and major in one of the remaining two, if you so desired. Think it’s still the same.

    Possibly, the problem with Liz is that she DIDN’T drop economics.

    Martin, you are being very generous: economics requires applied maths and stats. Logic options in philosophy can be technically complicated. But really the maths is very simple compared to say a pure maths degree.

  • Peter Davies 2nd Jan '23 - 7:15am

    London is a separate political entity and some real political decisions get taken at London level and we need recognisable policies on all of those. We don’t have to wait for the Westminster party to provide leadership.

    We need to get a long-term mayoral candidate in place and they, the assembly group and the regional party need to start raising our profile across London. London still has old media that cover the area or large chunks of it and we are under-performing there but many of the voters exist in bubbles that cut across boroughs and largely ignore wards. Many are part of communities defined by cultural origins, occupation, age and sexual orientation which influence their attitudes far more than their neighbours do. You can only get on their radar by having members within those communities being visible.

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