From left, candidates Ken Livingstone, Boris Johnson and Brian Paddick
10:32pm UK, Thursday April 19, 2012
Candidates in London’s Mayoral election have been clashing on the issue of last summer’s riots as Sky News hosted the only extended televised debate ahead of the May 3 vote.
Three of the hopefuls – Conservative incumbent Boris Johnson, Labour’s Ken Livingstone and Liberal Democrat Brian Paddick – have been going head to head and were asked what they thought had caused the widespread disturbances.
Mr Livingstone said: “I think there was an element of criminality there… but there was also an element of anger.
“I think a lot of people feel no-one in power… cares about them or has got an agenda for them.
“(There was) a completely fumbled response. The night after the riots there were only 6,000 police on the streets. The following night, when we had 16,000, it brought it to an end.”
Responding to a reference to the fact he was on holiday when the riots began, Mr Johnson said: “Clearly in an ideal world I would not have been… abroad at the time (of the riots).
“We need to continue to work with local communities to transform the area. We’ve got the funds now to take those areas forward and to deliver jobs and growth that will take them far beyond the level they were at before the riots began.”
But Mr Paddick insisted the riots could have been predicted after the response to the police’s fatal shooting of Mark Duggan.
“The police should have known that that situation had that potential,” he said.
“A lot of the hostility (that caused the riots) was hostility towards the police
“Disproportionate stopping of young black men in stop and search (and) we’ve seen allegation after allegation of racism within police.”
The three men also disagreed over the issue of tax.
Mr Johnson said: “(Mr Livingstone) goes bashing me for allegedly calling for tax cuts in the budget, when he campaigns for an 80% tax rate and to the best of my knowledge Ken, you pay a tax rate of 14.5%.”
Mr Livingstone replied: “No (it’s) 35%, Boris. We’ve had inequality of wealth double in this city over the last 30 years.
“We need to have a much fairer system. I publish my tax returns… it’s 35%. (Mr Johnson) pays 41%, but then he earns half a million pounds, he should pay more than me.”
Mr Paddick attacked both the Labour and Conservative candidate, saying Mr Johnson benefited from the recent removal of the 50% tax rate and that Mr Livingstone “funneled money” through a private company to stay out of the top tax bracket.
Mr Livingstone added that voters were “sick of hearing” about how much tax each candidate paid and were more interested in issues such as youth unemployment and crime.
London Mayoral Candidates
:: Siobhan Benita (Independent)
:: Carlos Cortiglia (British National Party)
:: Boris Johnson (Conservative)
:: Jenny Jones (Green)
:: Ken Livingstone (Labour)
:: Brian Paddick (Liberal Democrats)
:: Lawrence Webb (UKIP)