Councillor Antonia Cox, a Conservative candidate for the 2016 London Assembly elections, answers Conservative Way Forward's questions.
1. Why are you a Conservative?
I believe power corrupts. The state in the twentieth century acquired too much power. Mrs Thatcher showed that its boundaries needed to be rolled back. Trade unions also got too much power in post-war Britain, and I was horrified by the winter of discontent. That’s why I’m a Conservative.
It’s also to do with being a refugee’s daughter. My father made a home here after escaping the Nazis in 1939, and I’m grateful to belong to this amazing country. When I hear what Noel Coward called “the Reds and the Pinks, who think that England stinks” I like to set them straight!
2. What is London’s biggest priority?
Because I’m a Conservative, I don’t like big government, but it’s also true that some markets sometimes fail. Then you need targeted government intervention, within clear limits. You can see that in London, where the biggest priority now is to contain rising rents and extreme house prices by building more homes. Flight capital escaping economic upheavals around the globe has squeezed out London buyers. Labour councils and public bodies like the NHS and TfL, which own masses of land in the capital, have been too slow to develop it for housing.
Tfl alone owns land the size of sixteen Hyde Parks. The Mayor clearly has a role in removing the blockages. I believe Zac will do just that – and he will free up brownfield sites, already in public ownership, instead of destroying the green belt.
3. What was Boris’s best policy as Mayor?
For me, the best thing Boris did was to fight for Crossrail during the recession, when critics said it was too expensive and London-centric. In the ward I represent as a councillor, which includes Paddington Station, we can see just how vital Crossrail’s 10 % boost to central London’s rail capacity will be, as the capital’s population rises to 9m by 2020. It was part of the strong message which Boris sent, following the crash, that London was still open for business and investment.
4. Why should Zac be elected as Mayor of London next May?
Zac will build on Boris’s good work. He will be a great Mayor because he’s shown through his environmental campaigns, especially against the Heathrow third runway, that he cares about Londoners’ quality of life. Zac has a mind of his own, but he can also work with a Conservative government. That is essential if the Mayor is to get anything done for the next four years at least.
5. Why is it so important to keep London blue?
A Labour Mayor offers London the opposite - deadlock. Sadiq Khan will just use the job to pick fights with Downing Street, like a Ken Livingstone tribute act, to try to win for Jeremy Corbyn in 2020. It won’t work, but in the meantime we’d all suffer the loss of jobs and investment in what is still the engine of the UK economy. So it really is vital to keep London blue in 2016.