Monday, April 14, 2008
Wednesday 9th April saw 2,500 Londoners from across the capital fill the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster in a unique event to hold the London Mayoral candidates to account.
Organised by ‘London Citizens’, an alliance of faith based organisations , schools, universities, community groups and trade union branches, the ‘Mayoral Accountability Assembly’ set an agenda which discussed a range of social justice issues, and for once, it was the people rather than the politicians, who were doing all the talking.
The London Citizens put 4 campaigns to Ken, Boris, Sian Berry and Brian Paddick; topics which had emerged as the main issues of concern for the people of London after an extensive , London wide listening campaign in 2007. These were ‘A safer city’, ‘A fairer city’ ( which includes the Living Wage campaign ), ‘A better housed London’ and ‘A more welcoming London’. Key to the campaign for a more welcoming London was a call for an earned regularisation for asylum seekers: a process to turn ‘Strangers into Citizens’. The communities of London demanded the Mayoral candidates agree to a number of proposals including a promise to provide travel cards or vouchers for refused asylum seekers to travel to the UK Border Agency (UKBA) offices when necessary, to encourage the Metropolitan Police to not cooperate with dawn raids, and for the potential mayors to vow to use their political clout when in office to push the government to implement regularisation as official government policy.
All in all, the candidates were extremely responsive and gave a resounding yes! to all the demands put to them. Only Boris stressed some reservations to the proposals, stating that he had no power as mayor to stop the police performing their job, mean ing non-compliance with dawn raids would be out of the question.
Whoever gets voted in the rights of asylum seekers look set to remain on the agenda whilst London Citizens are at work. Watch this space to see what happens next.
Posted by STAR team on 14/04/2008 at 11:26 AM