‘We can make London the most equal city on Earth,’ says London Mayoral Candidate Sophie Walker
PUBLISHED: 17:04 04 May 2016 | UPDATED: 17:22 04 May 2016
Fiona Hanson © Copyright 2016
The Women’s Equality party candidate for the London Mayoral election believes the time has come for the capital’s women to make a difference.
Speaking to The Recorder, Sophie Walker, London Mayoral candidate and Women’s Equality party (WE)leader, revealed her plans to help make London “the best, most equal city on Earth,” if she were elected on May 5.
The 44-year-old said: “The first thing I would do, on the morning of May 6, is walk into City Hall and publish all the information about worker’s pay - breaking it down by gender and ethnicity and really trying to tackle the inequality there so that we could start doing something about the rest of London.”
The capital’s pay gap of 23 per cent is, Ms Walker argues, the biggest hurdle facing whoever becomes Mayor, as it directly effects resident’s ability to pay for housing, transport and other services.
“What actually is affordable housing?” She asks, “Because if it’s worked out on wages that aren’t indicative of 51 per cent of the population then by definition it’s not affordable.”
Ms Walker has a unique solution to the housing problem - she would form a cross party committee to tackle the issue, with a focus on providing safe homes to vulnerable women and children.
“I think it’s actually quite shameful we’ve got to this point where politicians are bashing each other with ‘my idea’s better than yours and the only one that will work,’” she said.
“All the parties have some good ideas on how to solve the housing crisis in London, and we should be working together to make sure they work for everyone.”
Ms Walker also has fears about the night-tube and what it could mean for women using the service,and would demand staff members and wifi at all stations to ensure passenger safety.
She said: “The rate of sexual assaults in London continues to rise, and we have a real problem tackling that.
“A woman I met while out canvassing told me she feels like she’s paying an extra tax as a woman purely from the taxi fares she has to pay late at night because she doesn’t feel safe getting the bus, and that needs to change.”
One obstacle WE have had to face is the preconception that they are merely a single-issue pressure group, with no political power.
The ex-journalist was quick to reject this idea.
She said: “We are not a pressure group. We are a registered political party that will be competing elections.
“Parties like UKIP and the Greens have proven in recent years that it’s possible to make change a reality and shake up the establishment, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
And it seems to be working, as Ms Walker praised the reception she’s received while campaigning throughout the city.
She said: “Once, out canvassing I knocked on the door of an 85-year-old woman who told me she hadn’t voted in 20 years because she’s become so disillusioned.
“I explained who WE are her eyes lit up, because finally there was a party that she believes is representing her interests.”
Most of all, by running in May Ms Walker is hoping to start a discussion that could make a real difference.
She said: “Equality has become this football that politicians from different parties pick up and run with for a while, saying ‘we’ve got it and they haven’t’, then do a small amount of work and say ‘we’ve done this and this, now leave us alone’ but there’s no real improvement, and it’s time for that to change.
“By banding together women can bring about that change and become an electoral force.”
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