Programme(s) LBC 97.3 Ken Livingstone and David Mellor
Date & time Saturday 25 July 2015 10.36
Subject/Interviewee Interview – Stephen Greenhalgh

 

Ken Livingstone, presenter: We’re moving straight from who should be the next Labour leader to who should be the next Tory Mayor of London, and whilst we’re talking, I suspect, all the candidates are being interviewed and vetted one by one by some, you know, ghastly little committee of people poking and prying at them, and…

David Mellor, presenter: Whose sole qualification has to be they’ll do what Dave wants them to.

KL: Well, there are these rumours that they’re going to try and rig the panel of candidates so just Zac Goldsmith flows through. So we’ve got somebody here who has been deeply embedded in Boris’s administration, in charge of policing in London, Stephen Greenhalgh.

Welcome, Stephen.

Stephen Greenhalgh, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime: Welcome, Ken, thank you.

KL: Now, why are you running for it?

SG: Well, because I want the job. I think it’s a fantastic job to have the opportunity to shape the greatest global city on earth. You know, as much as anybody, except for Boris perhaps, just how much the job can achieve in London if the powers are used for the people of London.

KL: But you’ve got a disadvantage, because Zac Goldsmith is saying ‘if I’m the candidate, I’ll, you know, give £3 million to run my campaign and all that, and you can’t find £3 million’. Do you think this is right that someone can actually almost buy the thing?

DM: Buy the candidacy, anyway, yeah.

KL: Come on, slag off Zac Goldsmith, please.

SG: Well, I’m not going to, because I’m going to run my own campaign and it will be the way I started my political career from a ward then a ward chairman with my two friends, close friends, that I worked with, and then we built that branch up, and then I got onto the association and then became a local councillor to the very ward where my parents came to when they came to London. I served there for 16.5 years. I was a council leader for six years.

DM: Yeah, leader of Hammersmith, we need people to know that…

SG: Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council, and I worked my way up from the bottom, if you like, and I make no apologies that my campaign will be much more of a grassroots campaign.

DM: So you and Ken, you and…

KL: We’re the same. We’ve got…

DM: That was the point exactly I was going to make, so why isn’t he a lefty?

KL: No, but during the break, you and Stephen were talking…

DM: I’m sorry…

KL: …and both of you were getting on fine, because your local government were at your fingertips.

DM: I have this sense that someone with Stephen’s experience is much more likely to be a more effective mayor than someone who sort of breezes in with a Pepsodent smile and some money in his pocket.

KL: I think this is the problem with our politics. I mean, when you and I came into politics, David, everybody broadly followed this route. You did something local like run a small business or, you know, regional union official or something like that; now it’s all these people straight out of doing politics and philosophy at Oxford or Cambridge, and then political advisor and then they’re… I mean, the tragedy is, and I’ve said before, I mean, Cameron and Obama and Blair, the first thing they get to run is the whole country.

DM: Well, I mean, I remember, funnily enough, it’s very interesting for you to say that, a friend of mine, who was a very successful businessman, a very successful fixer for the Democratic Party, senior ambassador under Clinton – he was one of Clinton’s main backers – he assured me in Obama’s first election that, you know, although Obama, he agreed, had been a social worker in Chicago only four years before he ran for President, Obama was so bright, he’d been an editor of the Harvard Law Review, he’d make a great job of it. Well, I spent part of my New Year’s holiday with dear old Ed [Elson] in Florida last year and I said “How are you feeling about it, Ed?” and then he said “well, he’s been a disaster”, and part of the reason he said, you know, he thinks the people who got him elected, and the people who run a government, made every mistake in the book, and we even have Obama – we’ll be talking about this later on – talking about, you know, the things he failed to do, gun control, all that sort of stuff and…

SG: Well Cuomo got it right, didn’t he? You govern in prose but you have to campaign in poetry and very few people can do both.

DM: Exactly. Now, look…

KL: Hang on, before we move on, while we’re still dealing with our origins. I mean, before you got into politics, what was your chosen career? What did you do?

SG: Well, I’m going to disappoint you, Ken, because the only place I’m going to go to is Cambridge, my dad was the first person in his family to go to university, and I grew up with maps of Cambridge colleges in front of me, and I went to Trinity, because I was taken there as a kid. I left there and joined Procter and Gamble, worked my way through brand management. It was the boot camp of marketing and learning how to run businesses. I tried to set up my business. It didn’t work out the first time and eventually got that going, and it’s now a local business and employs nearly 30 people.

KL: Yeah, right, so you’ve actually run and you’ve learnt from mistakes.

SG: If you get it wrong, don’t make the same mistake twice. That’s my definition of stupidity.

DM: Now, Stephen, what is troubling me is the manner in which… we know how far… and I obviously don’t expect you to criticise David Cameron, but you know, we don’t need to, I can do all that’s needed on that, who in his attempts at party management, he has an A-list, a lot of manipulation going on, very little is left to chance. There are rumours that what they’re looking for is only to let two or three people through to the short list that is then voted on by Tory Party members, and since this is more of a coronation than an election, there are two other candidates, the leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council…

SG: Westminster City Council.

DM: Westminster, sorry. A woman who is, obviously, gifted but hasn’t been around for very long and an MEP whose name even eludes me, such as you who is a household name. The worry is that you will not survive today, and yet, how can they not allow to go on the ballot someone who is deputy mayor and who has a record of service to the Conservative Party at local government and at London Government level stretching back more than two decades. How could that happen?

SG: Well, it has not yet happened. And the truth is that I think the party needs competition, competition is a good thing, it is one of the reasons that I think and believe that enterprise is important, it is what drives growth and growth can drive prosperity and it can benefit everybody. And if we have a coronation, I don’t think that is good for anybody, including the front-runner.

KL: Let’s work on the assumption you get the nomination, which Labour Candidate would you most fear? Which do you think would be your strongest opponent?

SG: Do you know I started watching… I mean, I concentrate on my own race, but I am interested that David Lammy nicked an idea of yours around this bond idea, which is, effectively, the values…

KL: Not James Bond, it is municipal bond.

DM: Is Municipal Bond James Bond’s cousin or what?

SG: And I think that idea of using the inherent value of the land in London to borrow against and build things is absolutely the right way to go. That is how you can shape a city, so it is a good idea, I will nick it.

KL: This is the key thing, it is investment. Every economics and [inaudible] investment, and there is no discussion about this taking place in the Labour leadership contest or our investment that was in Britain basically the lowest since the Second World War. And if you look at… London’s success today is based on the fact that we did get a lot of investment in transport, in the Olympics and now Crossrail coming along and that is what attracts the private sector to then come.

DM: Stephen, can I just press you just one more time on this.

SG: Sure.

DM: Are you worried that this small group of people who will be evaluating you today for reasons I cannot begin to comprehend might prefer to have Zac running against a woman and someone with an Asian heritage, rather than a tough guy like you. Could you accept it, if you were excluded, when you have done so much? Don’t you deserve – regardless of what they say – your chance with the people.

SG: David, life is not fair, but I am going to give it my best shot, and that is all I can do. I can’t control the committee. I don’t know many of the people on the committee, I will do my best, and then I will have to take stock.

DM: Why do the Tories not trust the people? I mean, I appreciate they have got one or two weirdos like Ivan Massow, who has just made himself self-publicist and a whole lot of other things. I was saying, when you have got John Bercow and Ivan Massow, you realise if your name ends in O-W, you have got problems. But basically, what is it, why don’t the Tories trust the people. The job of the Evaluating Committee should be to say whether that person, and it was last time, because I know various people who were on that committee last time, when Boris went through. The assessment was, ‘was that person capable of being a credible candidate’? How can they run it on any other basis? And manifestly, you are capable of not just being a credible candidate; you’re capable of being an extremely credible candidate, so why don’t they trust the Tory voters to make that decision.

SG: Well, that is a really nice one. I think we have to see. I personally believe as every person in the race that has commentated on this that we should have a very broad field. It doesn’t cost anymore to have more names on a ballot paper. So frankly, I would have everybody on the ballot paper and have very… you know, and just let people decide.

KL: You should say when you get to that committee later on in the day, you should point out that Labour has allowed everyone who got a nomination from the CLP on that list, and if the Tories rig this, we might mention it during the campaign once or twice.

DM: Well, indeed.

SG: I think we already have, Ken, actually, to fair.

DM: Zac Goldsmith is a maverick, a wealthy maverick who will abort the nomination is a disaster waiting to happen, but there we are. The last person I said that to was a man called Archer, when I said to him, private dinner, ‘Jeffrey, why are you running to be Mayor of London, you cannot survive the scrutiny of an election campaign?’ and with his great respect for truth, Jeffrey said, ‘Well, I haven’t decided to run anyway’, when he had already appointed his treasurer and god knows what. Anyway, this is LBC, it is 10.46