Big Smoke spoke to newly elected Liberal Democrat Assembly Member Stephen Knight about the election, the future and who he voted second preference for Mayor.
The declaration of the result was certainly a highlight, but overall it was the fighting spirit of the Lib Dem campaign teams working hard across London in very difficult circumstances and often in the pouring rain too. We’re a resilient bunch!
The Liberal Democrat vote dipped, as expected, but you still managed to hold on to two seats on the Assembly – are you happy with the result?
I would have been much happier had we held on to three seats and been joined by the excellent Bridget Fox, but clearly on a personal note I am delighted to have been elected. During the count it was very much touch and go as to whether I would be elected and it was only very late at night that it became clear that I would take the final 11th London-wide seat, which was a great relief.
The Conservatives are not massively happy with the formal agreement the opposition parties came to on the Assembly. Andrew Boff described the move to us as “pathetic and authoritarian”. That seems a bit harsh – what’s your view?
We take the view that the assembly is there to hold the mayor to account and therefore it is right and proper that the opposition parties should take the lead in that robust challenge and scrutiny. Indeed this has been the pattern since the GLA was established 12 years ago.
Earlier this year Assembly Liberal Democrats were pushing for larger tax cuts (specifically a cut in the precept), is this still your position, and if so how do you propose to maintain public services while reducing revenue?
Budgeting decisions should be taken based on the circumstances that prevail at the time and balancing the need to maintain public services with the desire to keep the precept at an affordable level. My colleagues were able to show earlier this year that a cut in the precept was affordable whilst protecting services. In the New Year we will make a new assessment based on the facts before us at the time.
If you were only able to get involved in one area of the Assembly’s work which area would that be?
I’ve taken on the role of deputy chair of the Assembly’s budget committee because ultimately, the budget determines whether or not the GLA’s programmes and priorities can be delivered. However the biggest issue for Londoners over the next few years will undoubtedly be around jobs and growth. The GLA has the ability to stimulate significant new employment through house building and other new infrastructure projects, but I’m not yet convinced that the Mayor’s policies will deliver what’s needed.
One last, cheeky, question. I’m sure you voted for Brian Paddick as your first preference for Mayor, did you use your second vote and if so, who for?
I have made no secret of the fact that I felt London needed a change of Mayor and, more importantly, a change of direction to a more progressive policy agenda, therefore I used my second preference vote to achieve that end.