Here's the responses from Ken Livingstone, the Labour candidate for London Mayor to the 5 questions we selected from many sent in by our readers:
1. 'The rise in income inequalities in the UK to levels not seen since the 1920s has been driven largely by the financial markets industry in the City. How would you, as Mayor of London, address this issue ? Would regulation / legislation work and, if so, how ?'
Income inequality is not driven by financial markets in the City, it is driven by inadequate investment to equip people with the education and skills they need in the face of global competition. The only way to tackle this problem is a big increase in investment in education and training to equip people with the skills they need in the global economy. At the same time, to allow essential workers to live in London there has to be protection for the lowest paid with the London Living Wage reflecting the real costs of living in the capital.
2. 'The Mayoral candidates appear to be more concerned about the environment, rather than the out-of-control crime rate. What do you actually intend to do to combat the high incidence of crime in London ?'
The crime rate is not out of control, it is falling, last year by 6 per cent. This is because I have increased the number of police officers in the capital by 10,000 over the last eight years. To continue to bear down on crime, especially involving young people, we have to continue to increase the number of police officers and, at the same time, provide young people with many more youth centres and other places which offer safe alternatives to hanging around the streets.
3. 'Over the last decade, there has been an increasing tendency for national and local government to use the tax codes, fees and charges, penalties, political correctness and targeted legislation to micro-manage the behaviour of every man, woman and child in London (and throughout the UK). Most of these encroachments are not the legitimate functions of government, and their unintended consequences are often worse than the so-called ills they are intended to alleviate. Specifically, what do you intend to do to hold back the tide of the 'nanny-state', and restore the freedoms, choices, and market forces that made this City (and our country) great ?'
The premises of this question are wrong. London is enjoying its greatest success in decades - leaving other financial centres like Frankfurt and even overtaking New York. As London regains its place on the international stage it is attracting some of the most prestigious events in the world, like the 2012 Olympic Games - something no-one would have thought possible a few years ago. An important part of this success has involved celebrating the city's openness and diversity, exactly the image we need in the global world economy.
4. 'How do you intend to ease the pressure on London's Social Services / Healthcare / Education Authorities / Police caused by the increasing flux of immigrants ?'
The movement of people from other parts of the UK and the world into London is a sign of our success and contributes far more than its costs. With a large proportion of jobs in London depending on international companies and industries like tourism our diversity is an important strength, not a weakness. At the same time, as Mayor, I will continue to make the case, that I have made with considerable success, to central government that we must receive a much greater share of our contribution to the national economy in order to continue to fund the expansion of our infrastructure and public services to meet the needs of a growing population.
5. 'If you were granted one additional power - either from Central Government or Local Authorities - what would you want that to be ? Why ? And what would you do with that power ?'
A single waste authority for London because at the moment this power is fragmented between more than 30 boroughs with different standards of services, recycling and environmental protection. A single waste authority would set common standards of environmental protection and disposal of waste across the capital, raise the proportion and waste recycled and assist us in making our proper contribution to tackling the threat of global climate change.