Meeting long-standing City Hall employee and mayoral candidate Mandu Reid
- Credit: Siorna Ashby
Mandu Reid has worked for City Hall longer than any other candidate standing in the upcoming London mayoral election.
She says unlike her former bosses - Ken Livingstone, Boris Johnson and Sadiq Khan - she is not going to “play it safe” if elected as mayor.
The leader of the Women’s Equality Party (WEP) told this paper: “We’ve got loads of innovative ideas, and if you had a mayor with political courage, you could really sure up the destiny of our city.”
Ms Reid grew up in Swaziland before attending school in Devon, where she was the only black pupil in her year.
Now based in south London, the WEP leader told this paper she was not a child who had ambitions to be prime minister one day - and that did not change while she worked on the Olympics or in crime and risk management in City Hall.
She explained: “I didn’t necessarily see myself as a politician, even though for the bulk of my professional career I’ve worked for politicians.
“And I think that was probably a factor in me thinking I don’t really want to be one of those.”
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Now running on a platform of investing in London’s “social infrastructure”, free childcare and workers’ wellbeing, Ms Reid has a vision for the capital.
She has vowed to make London the UK’s first "sanctuary city" for migrant women seeking refuge from violence, and says simply adding “more bobbies on the beat” won’t make women safer.
Instead, sexual violence must become “socially unacceptable” through public health campaigns similar to those about drink-driving, and teach children about sexual consent from primary school level.
“I think over the three years this mayor has in office... you can start to make a change that London’s 4.5 million women and girls would thank you profusely for,” she explained.
Responding to criticism that the WEP has been considered overwhelmingly white and middle-class, Ms Reid said the party has been on a journey since its genesis six years ago, and includes women of colour, LGBTQI people and other marginalised groups.
“We have the most diverse leadership team in British politics, although I confess male representation is running a little bit slim in our party,” she joked.
She added: “I am encouraging Londoners to share their votes with equality on May 6, because the voting system for the London Assembly is fairer than other elections, so you can support multiple parties to have the biggest impact on the result.”