London Mayor elections: Jenny Jones
Green Party mayoral candidate Jenny Jones has promised to tackle graduate unemployment if elected as Mayor of London on May 3.
In an exclusive interview with Arts London News (ALN), Jones disagreed with Mayor Boris Johnson after he recently accused London’s youth of having a poor work ethic.
“I think Boris is very quick to judge and he’s got all sorts of ideas about people he knows nothing about, such as the Occupy protestors, or perhaps students and young people who are working and struggling to get through their studies,” she said.
Jones, 62, studied archaeology as a mature student at University College London until 1999 and worked in the Middle East before settling on a career in politics.
Now living in Camberwell, the former Deputy Mayor believes the way to create jobs and help unemployed graduates into work is through supporting small businesses.
“There is about £15 billion washing around our system every year and we should find out if the banks we use help small businesses.
“It should be one of the criteria for doing business with City Hall,” she said.
Jones will also look to address the high levels of air pollution in London.
Out of all Europe’s major cities, only Düsseldorf, Milan and Rome are judged to have worse air quality than London. Jones believes getting people out of their cars and onto bikes or public transport is the only solution.
Jones, who has long championed cycling and campaigned for safer roads, attended the recent protest at the King’s Cross junction where UAL student Min Joo Lee was killed last year.
“I think it was noticeable that I was the only politician to be at the ride because I think direct action is a way of forcing this stuff onto the agenda.”
Commenting on ALN’s cycling safety campaign, Right to Ride, Jones said: “I looked it up just today – I really like it.
“I have been in meetings with Transport for London (TfL) insisting that we must get changes [to dangerous junctions] made.”
Whilst Johnson has pledged not to increase the congestion charge, Jones revealed she plans to raise the daily fee from £9-£12 to £18 in an attempt to reduce traffic on London’s roads.
Furthermore, she will look at ways of introducing a pay-as-you-go road-pricing scheme within the M25 to discourage people from driving.
On public transport, Jones admitted she had no plans to offer any further student discounts but is planning an overall fare reduction of four per cent.
“I don’t believe public transport should be free or as cheap as cycling or walking,” she explained.
Jones, who sat on the now disbanded Metropolitan Police Authority, believes the relationship between students and police has been damaged following the recent demonstrations.
“I mainly talk to Green students and I would say there is great anger towards the police as they think they have been so unfair and so rough and unpleasant,” she said.
Jones welcomed the recent announcement of a reduction in random stop and searches but would like to see a more representative police force in order to shake off the ‘institutionally racist’ tag.
When asked about issues of racism within the police force, Jones said: “I don’t think police are institutionally racist but I think some individuals are probably racist and those individuals have to be encouraged out of those beliefs and the police can do that.
“They could do that by having a more representative police force – they should have more women, more ethnic minorities – I’ve been pushing for this for years.”
Although the latest polls suggest the election will be a straight fight between Johnson and Ken Livingstone, Jones is targeting a surprise victory.
“Success would obviously be to become Mayor on 4 May and success would be to get more assembly members,” she said.
“The next few months are going to be exhausting but I have huge reserves of energy.”