We’re booming. London’s population reached 8.6 million last year, the highest since its 1939 peak, just before the start of the Second World War. The latest projections from the Greater London Authority estimate that the city will be home to 11 million people by 2050. That’s a lot of elbows in the tube! The next mayor will face a bigger challenge in managing transport, housing and regeneration of the city.
It’s London’s opportunity for a fresh start. Although it seems like Boris Johnson has been in City Hall since dinosaurs walked the Earth, the role was actually created in 2000. Since then, there’s been only two Mayors. The outgoing Johnson was elected in 2008, then defeating incumbent Mayor Ken Livingstone from the Labour Party. In following election, Johnson was re-elected, again ahead of Livingstone. This time around, neither one is running for Mayor, making it the first election which Livingstone will not be contesting. Out with the old, in with the new.
It’s going to be a close one. The first figures show that the two main candidates are neck and neck in the run for City Hall. According to a YouGov survey for the Evening Standard, 29 per cent back Khan (Labour) and 28 per cent back Goldsmith (Conservatives). It’s a cliché to say that every vote counts, but in this election a couple of votes can make a huge difference.
They don’t want you to. At a first glance, both main candidates have equal percentage of potential votes. However, Khan has stronger backing among adults aged 18 to 39 while Goldsmith has a stronger grip on people aged over 60, who are also more likely to vote. The establishment is accounting on you not showing up, your absence empowers them. Whatever candidate wins you over, just casting your vote sends an important message: youth has a voice. Maybe next time they’ll actually listen.
Voting is a privilege. Not everyone can vote. The stricter rules apply for UK parliamentary general elections – the ones that decide the government. Here you have to be aged 18 or over and a UK, Commonwealth or Irish Republic citizen. In a nutshell, foreigners have no say. However, European citizens living in the UK can vote for local elections like the London Mayoral. If you bear in mind that the capital has the largest proportion of residents born outside the UK (37%) and non-UK nationals (24%) there’s a lot of people that will be left out.
It only takes three minutes. Since June 2014 people are able to apply to register to vote online by providing their name, address, date of birth and National Insurance Number. We tried it– and timed it – and it really works. However, four in ten people in the UK still don’t know that they can register to vote online, according to a poll conducted by YouGov for the Electoral Commission. Spread the word, it’s as easy as it gets.
It will make you feel good about yourself. Feeling powerless is one of the worst feelings ever, right? Well, it works the other way around too. Voting, campaigning or simply caring for what’s happening around you will make you feel less numb. News flash: not giving a sh*t stopped being cool after high school.
You can win some cash. Online betting websites like Paddy Power are asking you to put your money where your vote is - imagine a horse race with City Hall at the finish line. The odds are obviously against the smaller parties’ candidates. Take Siân Berry (Greens) for instance, with her odds being 80/1 you can have a potential return of £810 for a bet of £10 if she wins.
It affects you. Serious youth violence has increased by 8 percent in London in the last 12 months. There has also been a 16.5 increase in the number of firearms discharged in the capital during last year. One of the main reasons for this is police cuts. The Met has lost more than 5.000 uniformed officers dedicated to borough and neighbourhood policing since 2010. Youth and safety policies are just a small part of the Mayor of London’s jurisdiction. Still don’t care?
It’s exciting. It’s not just your next four years as a Londoner that will be affected, it’s also the future of the people you love and of one of the world’s leading capitals. So by caring you’re actually helping to shape history – and that beats watching EastEnders.