Chirping birds, beaming sunshine and plenty of greenery: the perfect backdrop for a Green Party London Mayoral launch

26 March 2024, 17:03 | Updated: 26 March 2024, 17:04

The London Mayoral election contest is really taking shape, writes Henry Riley
The London Mayoral election contest is really taking shape, writes Henry Riley. Picture: LBC
Henry Riley

By Henry Riley

To be fair, the London Green Party couldn’t have timed it better if they’d tried…

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Activists who arrived at the idillic, picturesque Canal Club Community Centre in Bethnal Green were all fizzing with excitement as the London Mayoral election really takes shape.

Zoe Garbett - a Green Party Councillor in Hackney - is challenging the political orthodoxy in the capital. She is standing for Mayor against incumbent Sadiq Khan, and his Conservative challenger Susan Hall.

Garbett, who boasts a bright pink fringe, addressed the 20 or so activists gathered outside in East London for what was a pretty small-scale low-key affair.

In an impassioned speech the politician, who also works in a non-clinical role within the NHS, set out her stall particularly focusing on public transport.

Zoe Garbett pledged an expansion in free bus travel for all under 22s, whilst also calling for Freedom Pass holders as well as ‘older people Oyster card’ holders to travel free of charge 24 hours a day - including for free before 9am.

She also pledged to provide free bus travel to people seeking asylum, telling me “we know people seeking asylum get a really rough time when they come to the UK”.

Garbett cited the “small amount of money they get given” whilst being expected to travel to appointments around the city. She told LBC it would help London become a “welcoming city” whilst also getting people up off their feet.

The Green’s also say they will expand the free school meals programme from Primary Schools to also cover Secondary School pupils, saying that Sadiq Khan is not going far enough.

The Dalston Councillor told me “we want no child to go hungry, it’s incredible important and will make sure young people can thrive in school”.

The Greens especially look forward to the London Mayoral election.

The party has increased its share of the vote in every single contest since the role was launched in 2000.

Greens are similarly buoyed by the result last time out where they garnered their best ever result yet of 7.8%, and nearly 200,000 votes, pushing the Lib Dem’s into fourth place.

The Deputy Leader of the Greens Zack Polanski, who attended the launch, told LBC that the upcoming elections were “very exciting” for his party and replied “bring it on” when asked if he wanted a general election.

Mr Polanski explained that the party hopes to build on previous successes and conceded that he felt it was “undeniable” that Sadiq Khan was a better Mayor than Boris Johnson but warned “being better doesn’t cut it”.

This time around, however, the party faces challenging circumstances to try and build on previous successes. The voting system is changing from a preferential system to first past the post, and Mr Khan has already made clear his intention to woo “progressive” votes.