The Mayor of London is without doubt one of the most distinguished positions in the UK and is well known in the world, just after the Queen, and the Prime Minister.
The current mayor – a controversial representative of the Conservative Party, Boris Johnson has declared that he will end his second term in 2016 and will not run for a third time. This caused a stir in the British political world and a flurry of journalistic speculation regarding potential candidates.
Becoming an official candidate in a lengthy process, but by the end of September this year, the political parties will have confirmed their candidate for election on May 5 2016. In the absence of confirmed details, however, there is much speculation in the press and by the public. Several figures feature more prominently in the UK media, including bookies favourite Zac Goldsmith; millionaire, ecologist and Conservative MP. Meanwhile, speculation in the opposition Labour party centres around Tessa Jowell, Sadiq Khan and London PM Diane Abbot, who is from the left of the party and who would be, if elected, not only the first woman mayor of London, but also the first Black mayor.
Outwith the political parties, a number of independent candidates are likely to emerge, among them Jan Żyliński, a well-known Polish activist, with the title of prince. Jan Żyliński in April this year called for a face-to-face debate with Nigel Farage, the most prominent British Eurosceptic and leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party, or UKIP for short, who are known for their anti-immigration views. According to Polish press reports in Britain, the prince has a clear mission, “to fight for the good name of Poles in the UK. He wants to change the image of Poles in the UK, whose the contribution to the British economy is indisputable”.
Without doubt, Mr Żyliński is a very successful businessman and has achieved a great deal among Poles living in Great Britain. He also satisfies the formal requirements to become a candidate. He is British and lives in London, is part of the Conservative Party, has a history of professional achievements and also in community and charity work. He says of himself that over the years has shown that he is capable.
If he becomes an official candidate for the Conservative party, he postulates that he will build a million homes, will plant a million trees and reduce by half the fee for public transport. He also has one Polish postulate. He wants to build in central part of London a monument, which would commemorate Polish airmen fighting during the Battle of Britain. Żyliński, living in London, has also recently published a hugely successful internet recording, in which “he argues that the British have many reasons to love the Poles”.
The so-called Greater London area has now, according to official data, about 9 million inhabitants and residents are very diverse in terms of ethnicity. It is also estimated that Poles living in London and officially registered are about 200,000. However, realistically, many experts claim that number is up to four times greater.
The question is therefore whether Londoners will be ready for a mayor of Polish origin? We’ll find out very soon. However, regardless of the outcome certainly we cannot deny the role the Polish inhabitants of London can play during the next election for the mayor.
Anna Ruszel, Polish Professionals Forum in Europe
Photo: Paweł Fesyk