North London finance fanatic Tarun Ghulati speaks to Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter, about why he’s standing for mayor in May
An independent mayoral candidate has promised to “bring back the smile” on Londoners’ faces, arguing that the capital has “lost its mojo”.
Investment banker Tarun Ghulati told the Local Democracy Reporting Service he was entering the race to “get London moving again”, while strengthening community cohesion and improving policing.
Ghulati claimed his campaign will rapidly gather steam, and that within about six weeks, he expects to be polling in third place, ahead of the Liberal Democrat and Green candidates. After that point, he hopes to eclipse incumbent Labour mayor Sadiq Khan and Conservative candidate Susan Hall in the May election.
With the exception of Ken Livingstone, who won in 2000 before rejoining the Labour Party, no independent London mayoral candidate has ever received more than 4% of the vote.
Ghulati said this election was his first experience of politics, but that several people had encouraged him to run, telling him that “nobody wants” to re-elect Khan and that Hall was “uninspiring”.
The candidate, who lives in St John’s Wood, said he was concerned by the number of police stations which had closed in London in recent years and that he would seek to re-open them in areas with high crime rates.
On transport, Ghulati said he wanted to completely scrap the Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez), remove the Congestion Charge on weekends and abolish low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs).
The candidate, who was born in India and has lived in London for more than 20 years, said: “I certainly come from a country where toxic air is a big issue and I believe we should work towards making things greener and more effective.”
But he claimed that hindrances to cars, such as road-blocks in LTNs, were in fact contributing to pollution by causing vehicles to stand still and emit fumes.
Most local traffic neighbourhoods are located on residential roads controlled by borough councils, rather than Transport for London (TfL), raising questions about any London mayor’s ability to remove them.
The candidate said the Ulez was unfair because wealthy Londoners can easily afford the £12.50 daily charge for non-compliant vehicles, while those on lower incomes are deterred from using their cars.
According to the latest TfL data, 95% of vehicles seen driving on an average day across inner and outer London are now Ulez-compliant. The mayor has also established a £160million scrappage scheme to provide financial assistance to Londoners with non-compliant vehicles.
Ghulati said he also wanted to tackle inequality in the capital, including by pursuing a “levelling up” agenda for London and lobbying the Government to remove the two-child benefit cap.
In addition, the candidate has pledged to build more affordable homes and champion London globally.
“I’m very keen to make sure that I bring the smiles on the faces of all Londoners – that’s my key mantra,” he said, adding that voter turnout in 2021’s mayoral election – at 42% – was not particularly high.
“People, by and large, if you don’t do anything for them, they’re not bothered. Communities have become insular, they’re broken. I want to bring back the cohesiveness,” said Ghulati.
Beyond Khan and Hall, other candidates include the Green Party’s Zoë Garbett, the Liberal Democrats’ Rob Blackie and Reform UK’s Howard Cox.
Former Labour MP George Galloway – who later led the Respect Party and is now leader of the Workers’ Party of Britain – has also said he will stand.
The election will take place on 2nd May, along with elections to the London Assembly.