Our Agenda for a Fairer London, 2021
MFL activists met in October to start work on an agenda for a fairer city. Our first draft 'agenda for a Fairer London' - what we would talk to the Mayor about in a first meeting with him or her - is set out below for comments, suggestions and ideas.
London Elections 2021 – London needs a new direction
Like a virus, inequality infects our minds, the way we relate to one another and how we feel. Nowhere is this more relevant than in London. Our Agenda for a #FairerLondon, created by citizens and activists, asks the Mayor of London to reduce inequality – a lot. We need to change the shape of our society, for everyone’s benefit. We’ve taken an intersectional approach. Inequality is woven into the fabric of our society and is expressed through multiple forms of unfairness, discrimination and injustice. Our solutions must do the same and wherever possible aim to tackle the root causes of inequality.
Meeting Date : 7 May 2021, Time 10.00 a.m. Venue: The Mayor's Office, City Hall
Attendees: The Mayor of London and senior City Hall Staff
My Fair London activists and London fairness campaigners
Our Agenda for a Fairer City
- Fair economy: fair pay, fair taxes, fair incomes, fair rewards - The Mayor must introduce 10:1 pay ratios across all city-funded organisations; challenge the private sector to reduce high pay and sky-high bonuses. Lobby for powers to introduce wealth taxes – as part of reforming council tax. Rebalance London’s economy away from finance and banking. Build on the furlough scheme to explore options for Universal Basic Incomes for Londoners.
- Fair housing, fair space, fair rents - We need to change how we do housing in London. The ‘housing market’ is completely broken. We need homes people can afford to rent and to buy. Endlessly rising house prices lock thousands out of the chance of ever owning a home. Too much housing has become an investment not a home. Renter’s lack of rights creates insecurity for tenants. During the pandemic, Government banned unfair evictions and got ‘Everyone In’ from the streets. Change is possible.
- Climate change and the environment - Covid19 has drawn attention away from the terrifying challenge of climate change. The rich, and the very rich consume vastly more than the rest of us. Tackling economic inequality is central to tackling climate change. The huge changes needed to save the planet must have fairness and equity at their centre. People in more equal societies support more collective action: action on inequality reinforces action on climate change.
- Children and young people are most damaged by the direct harms of inequality. We need an education system that rejects myths of meritocracy. Our schools should focus on building citizens, on enriching young people’s minds, extending experiences, exploring relationships, building confidence and trust. London’s schools have become exam machines that judge, segregate, label and divide young people. Pupils are excluded to improve school exam grades.
- Press and the media – the language, concepts and attitudes of free-market economics have become so dominant that we barely notice how they infect our lives. Forty years of neoliberalism has changed the very words we use. This is how inequality becomes normalized, accepted and unchallenged. Much of London’s media is controlled by a few rich individuals. The news, the stories, the voices and views that we hear don’t represent our city. The Mayor should find ways to support the development of truly free and balanced sources of news.
- Power and democracy – As inequality has risen the rich have found it ever easier to buy power and influence. Property developers shape our housing system; bankers and finance businesses tell us how the economy has to be; privatized corporations run formerly public services. Even local schools are no longer under local democratic control. Democracy and equality are joined at the hip. The Mayor should find new ways to make sure that ordinary Londoners are included in decisions about their city and their lives.
- Its inequality stupid – inequality is a multi-faceted problem. It is re-produced in our culture and in our language. The Mayor should talk about the structure of society, about the distribution of wealth and power, about how inequality undermines our human relationships. How can we make London a city where we all share a strong sense of belonging? A vastly more equal London, with narrower gaps between people will make us care more, share more, help more, contribute more to our amazing city. To have a social London, a creative London, a just London, we need to change London. We need a fairer London.
Questions: what should we say about Black Lives Matter and structures of racism? Should we say more about the intersectional nature of inequalities?
My Fair London – elections 2021 – London needs a new direction: our agenda for a fair city
The Mayoral elections of 2020 were cancelled because of Covid19. The last time elections were cancelled in London was during the Second World War. The pandemic and the response to it have shown how vulnerable we are but also how society can come together. It has shown how many things previously said to be impossible can happen: homeless people housed overnight; Government directly supporting every business in the country through the furlough scheme; us all changing the intimate patterns of our lives. Dramatic, rapid change is possible.
Like so many other diseases Coronavirus has followed the lines of inequality in our city: the disease has spread faster in poorer communities, among people in poor housing, among BAME communities. The poorest have also seen the most job losses and the largest falls in their income. And the rich, and particularly the super-rich, have seen their fortunes continue grow. The amazing Black Lives Matter movement reminded us how racism remains embedded in British society. London is grossly unequal and unfair and this costs lives.
Coronavirus arrived in London after ten years of austerity and forty years of an extreme economic experiment. The scale of the pandemic’s impact is without parallel. Year after year we were told that economic laws were fixed and that competition and free markets were natural and best. If you ‘worked hard and played by the rules’ anyone could get on. The virus has shown us none of this is true. If you are rich you are protected from harm, if you are poor your risk of disease and illness is elevated, no matter how hard you work. Governments, even profoundly incompetent ones, can intervene in the whole economy, paying wages and subsidizing nearly every private company in the country. The magic money tree has become a forest. Why not plan major social change rather than stumble into it?
As the vaccines give us hope of the end of lockdowns and social restrictions now is the time to think about what next. After Covid19 we need rapid, radical change.
Last year we published a manifesto: ‘Five Steps for a Fairer London’. We challenged the candidates for the office of Mayor of London to face up to the gross inequalities that blight our city, and called on them to pledge action to narrow the gap between rich and poor. We asked them to put the creation of a fairer society at the heart of their programme. The shock of coronavirus makes this more urgent than ever. We can imagine a fair city now the virus has exposed London’s deep inequalities. We have seen that rapid, dramatic is possible. We need a Mayor who wants to develop a new radical vision for our city, rooted in a shift towards fairness and equity, toward collective actions and social solidarity, towards a globally just and sustainable relationship with the planet, towards real freedom and creativity.
Unequal societies spread distrust between people, raise stress, increase violence and damage the economy. With our agenda for a fairer city we want to encourage dialogue, to create connections between Londoners and to build a shared vision for London’s future. We set out seven priorities for change. We want to talk to our fellow citizens, to other campaign groups, businesses, politicians running for office. What would it take to build a Fair London? How can we change the shape of our society for the better? Can London become an ‘Ultra Low Inequality Zone’?