Mayoral candidate would ‘break up Met’ if elected

Mayoral candidate would 'break up Met' if elected
Credit Millie Pilkington

A social entrepreneur running to be the Tory London mayoral candidate has said she would consider breaking up the Met Police if elected.

Natalie Campbell, a CEO and university chancellor, said that if elected, she would “take an honest view of whether the Met Police can be turned around.”

Asked whether she would contemplate breaking the force up and replacing it with a new body, she said: “Nothing’s off the table. I can categorically say I will transform any organisation that is not fit for purpose.”

She added that the “trust compact” between the Met and society is “broken”, and that creating a new police force would not, on its own, necessarily restore that trust.

But she said she would also take an empathetic approach to the issue: “Police are people and the things they have to see and deal with on a daily basis must be harrowing. So we can’t just say: you’re wrong.

“Actually, as people, [we need to ask] what are we doing to support them… so that they can be the best force in the world.”

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Baroness Casey, author of a damning report into the force’s culture, has called for a “complete overhaul” of the Met, but stopped short of explicitly calling for it to be broken up and replaced.

Ms Campbell, who is co-CEO of bottled water company Belu, and chancellor of the University of Westminster, is going up against eight other Conservatives for the party’s mayoral candidacy.

The entrepreneur said her experience “at the coalface” of the capital’s business world will give her the edge over her rivals, most of whom hold elected office in some form.

She said that unlike her political competitors, she was not “pointing at other people saying ‘Why have you not done this?’ or waiting for somebody to give me a policy idea”.

She added: “I think politicians do a really important, credible job, but just because they’re politicians, it doesn’t mean they’ve got the right experience to run London.

“Actually the people who have the experience to run London, are the people who are at the coalface.”

Ms Campbell said she joined the party two months ago, explicitly so that she could stand to be its mayoral candidate. She was previously a member for around 18 months in 2014-15, during which time she prepared a bid for the London Assembly.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service on Monday, Ms Campbell said she did not yet have any endorsements from currently-elected Conservatives. While she admitted endorsements are “important”, she said that she hadn’t yet asked for any, because she wanted to “make sure they really know what I stand for before they endorse me”.

Her political awakening was during David Cameron’s tenure as party leader, having been inspired by his vision for a ‘Big Society’ centred around volunteerism and community empowerment.

She said: “I talk about myself as a One Nation Tory… When I think about what Cameron said about environmental stewardship and the idea of personal responsibility, I am absolutely a Conservative.”

On air quality, Ms Campbell said she would scrap Sadiq Khan’s planned expansion of the Ultra low emission zone (Ulez), arguing that the £12.50 daily charge “penalises those who are most vulnerable” and that the expansion would not make a “marked difference” to pollution levels.

Instead, she said she would look to boost the city’s biodiversity, while also focusing on reducing carbon emissions from the construction of buildings.
On housing, she said: “You can’t just just throw up more homes. The answer to the problems is not ‘more, more, more’. It’s the right homes in the right places.”

She said there was “existing housing” which is “ripe for retro-fitting”, though she would look to increase the numbers of certain kinds of homes – such as high-density student accommodation, and more family homes in outer London.

Looking at transport, Ms Campbell said she would keep Crossrail 2 and the Bakerloo Line extension “under review”, until Transport for London’s finances are in a healthier state – though she would prioritise the completion of HS2 from Old Oak Common to Euston.

Giving her views on Brexit in relation to London’s economy, Ms Campbell said: “I am worried about the impact of Brexit… If you speak to any business right now, they’re struggling to recruit. I’ve struggled to recruit in my own business.”

Asked whether Brexit was a mistake, she said: “I voted to remain. I think there’s time to not make it a mistake. We still have time. There are still deals that are being worked on…

“So I’m not fatalistic about it, I don’t think it’s too late. But has it had an impact? Yes it has had an impact.

“The supply of goods – I’ve got businesses that I know have struggled to get goods in from Europe, I have businesses where the cost of goods has just exponentially gone up as a result. People cannot deny those things are facts.”

Ms Campbell insisted her bid for the Conservative candidacy came from a genuine desire to be Mayor of London, rather than seeking to raise her profile.

“My life would be much easier to not run,” she said.
“I have a great career, I’m doing a job where I get to make a difference to people’s lives…

“The reason I believe the time is right to step into the ring is because I do not see politics doing what I believe it should do, and that is [being] focused on people. I don’t need to raise my profile any more.”

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