Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate Siobhan Benita has promised a “safer, greener, kinder London” as she officially launched her campaign.
The mayoral hopeful put love at the heart of her platform, speaking at the restaurant known for hosting Channel Four’s First Dates, ahead of Valentine’s Day.
Ms Benita said like a first date she would offer “excitement, optimism” and “the prospect of a future full of new adventures and happiness” as Mayor of London.
She said her readiness to talk about love and compassion was her “greatest strength”.
Speaking to the Local Democracy Service, she said criticised the “macho” leadership culture seen in US President Donald Trump and Russia’s President Putin.
Ms Benita said: “Actually there’s a better way of doing leadership – it’s a very collaborative approach.
“Whether that’s me as an individual or whether that’s part of me being female I’m not sure.
“I’m just saying I would like to see politicians talking a lot more about those values.”
The Kingston-born candidate said she’d tackle knife crime by ending school exclusions, offer after school activities for children, double the number of local police, and reopen police stations.
She wants to legalise cannabis to “undermine the violent drugs gangs’ primary source of money and power and take back control of our streets”.
Ms Benita also promised “the most ambitious Green Deal for London” of any candidate in the race.
She wants the city to be carbon neutral by 2030, and says she will ban all “unnecessary” single-use plastics.
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She said she’d “stop relying on the private sector” to build affordable housing, and vowed to launch a review of inequality in the city if elected.
Ms Benita claimed she would be more than a “mascot Mayor” and won’t just “stand up for London’s values on Twitter” – an apparent attack on incumbent Sadiq Khan.
She said the Mayor has failed to deliver on Crossrail, violent crime, homelessness and air pollution.
She said: “If you have a Mayor like myself who comes from a smaller party, and who’s been an independent before so is independent minded, I’m going to be much more collaborative in my approach.”
She said Mr Khan has isolated himself by focusing too much on the Labour Party.
Ms Benita said: “It’s very easy to construct a slick PR team, and have a great hashtag – but actually you do have to get stuck in, and you do have to make change.
“You can only do that if you’re prepared to talk to people who aren’t just from your own party.”
But Mr Khan says his values chime with Liberal Democrats, and asked them to lend him their votes to stop London turning blue in May.
He said: “With this anti-London Tory government in power, it’s never been more important to have a Mayor who will stand up for our diverse city’s progressive values.
“I am cleaning up our air, tackling the climate emergency, making transport more affordable, being tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime, and starting a record number of council homes.
“I am also proud to stand up every day for London’s values of openness, diversity, and internationalism.”
Green candidate Sian Berry said the capital is ready for a woman as Mayor.
She said: “It is a sad fact that neither Labour nor the Conservatives have ever put forward a woman candidate.
“I am one of only two women – both of us Green candidates – to have achieved a place in the top three in the race for Mayor.
“This election is different: by breaking into the top two this year I aim to uproot business as usual and be the first Green and the first woman in the Mayor’s seat in City Hall.”
Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey and independent Rory Stewart were approached for comment.
The Mayoral and London Assembly elections will take place on 7 May.