London is renowned as a world city, diverse and inclusive, where many communities live and work together harmoniously. I have lived in London for almost 40 years, arriving as a student and then staying on, and it’s been a remarkable experience. And that’s a widely-held view: when I taught at one of London’s inner city universities, many of my students from across Europe and beyond spoke of how London was for them uniquely tolerant and great to live in.
London is pretty much a microcosm of how the world could and should be, so it’s vital that we have a Mayor who shares and expresses those values of inclusivity, peace and respect. For me, as a peace and anti-war activist, that means a mayor who stands against nuclear weapons and against war. For how can we have a peaceful city, where all our citizens and residents feel at home, if we have a mayor who supports weapons of mass destruction that can indiscriminately destroy other people’s communities, or who supports conventional war and military intervention against countries where we have no earthly justification for involvement?
So as the London Labour party heads towards choosing its candidate it may be of use to know the records of the Labour mayoral candidates on these questions. MP candidates Diane Abbott, Tessa Jowell, Sadiq Khan, David Lammy and Gareth Thomas are joined by transport expert Christian Wolmar in seeking the Labour nomination. Thomas and Wolmar are the real outsiders in the race.
So how have the first four voted on key questions of war and peace? I’m choosing the parliamentary votes on Trident replacement in 2007 and the authorisation of the war on Iraq in 2003 as my benchmarks.
Abbott: against Trident replacement and against the war on Iraq
Jowell: for Trident replacement and for the war on Iraq
Khan: for Trident replacement and not an MP in 2003
Lammy: for Trident replacement (since on record as opposing Trident) and for the war on Iraq
So that looks pretty clear to me: the candidate with an unblemished record for peace – and who has taken a principled position on these two great questions of our time – is Diane Abbott.