Roar writer Rose of Sharon interviews David Kurten, the Heritage Party candidate for Mayor of London in this year’s upcoming election.
Rose of Sharon: Can you tell me a little bit about your background and how you got involved in politics?
David Kurten: I’m half English and half Jamaican, and I grew up in Britain. I was a Chemistry teacher for twenty years but I’ve always been interested in politics and current affairs. I joined UKIP in 2012 for two main reasons. The first was that I was concerned about the European Union, which I felt was taking power away from the people and giving it to corporate courts set up to broker transatlantic trade deals. The second was that I was alarmed by the drive towards political correctness which was getting more extreme. For the last five years, I’ve been a member of the London Assembly.
ROS: Is political correctness not just a synonym for kindness?
DK: Well some people are certainly motivated by kindness, but others are motivated by the desire to wreck society and silence their opposition. As we’ve seen from Twitter in recent weeks, the trend is accelerating. It starts with Katie Hopkins, then it moves on to JK Rowling, and now it’s the President of the United States. JK Rowling is considered a progressive liberal. Where does it end? I don’t necessarily agree with some of those being cancelled, but I do defend their right to free speech and the free exchange of ideas. The issue of free speech is particularly relevant in the universities where students are routinely self-censoring for fear of censorship or worse.
ROS: Are universities and London itself not progressive places?
DK: London is seen as a liberal city because the voices we hear are those in the media and in the political sphere. But research shows that London is actually a conservative city, particularly when it comes to the faith groups. Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims tend to be conservative, as do the black churches. Unfortunately, these groups aren’t given airtime in London and I would like a more diverse set of ideas being heard.
ROS: What are your main campaign promises?
DK: They fall under three main categories: the first is a commitment to reopen businesses closed because of the current situation, and the other two are the Mayor’s main responsibilities: policing and transport. With regards to transport, I want to unblock London’s roads, which have become increasingly congested due to cycle lanes and roadblocks, allowing councils to rake in fines.
The Covid emergency measures have given a lot of power to the mayor and councils. [These blocked lanes have] nothing to do with social distancing, however, and everything to do with Agenda 2030, the slogan “build back better”, and a Green New Deal. They want to create 15-minute neighbourhoods in which everything you need is within walking distance. But for some – the disabled, carers, service vehicles and taxis, for instance – the only way to get in and out is by car. Some politicians are so ideologically anti-car they don’t think about the effect this has on ordinary people.
ROS: Isn’t it important to encourage cycling in order to improve air quality? And where do you stand on the electric revolution?
DK: Clean air is very important, but for a city of London’s size, the air is relatively clean and consistently improving as people replace vehicles with those at Euro 5 and Euro 6 on the emission standard. I’ll give credit where credit is due: one of the good things Sadiq Khan has done is to introduce clean bus corridors in areas with high pollution such as Putney High Street and the Brixton Road. As mayor, I will upgrade the bus fleet with the latest technology.
I think [the electric revolution] is something for the free market to decide. I don’t think governments should deliberate subsidising electric vehicles to the detriment of diesel and petrol cars. Euro 6 cars are very clean, as I’ve said. My worry about electric vehicles is that tonnes of lithium and cobalt are being mined using child labour in the Congo. And even with an electric vehicle, you don’t see electricity being created when you plug in. Some of that still comes from burning fossil fuels in power stations outside London.
ROS: What are your plans for policing?
DK: I want to increase stop-and-search, which was reduced under Sadiq Khan and others, because of the perception it is racist. The simple fact is that stop-and-search saves lives, particularly of minority groups. I also want to end two-tier policing which has seen anti-lockdown protestors treated very differently to BLM or Extinction Rebellion protestors. The latter are treated with kid gloves, and we’ve even seen police officers get on their knees for BLM. Everybody must be equal under the law.
I’ve been to most of these protests in an observational capacity as a London Assembly member, and I’ve seen many instances of police brutality. In that sense, BLM has a point. I would question whether recent high-profile deaths in the USA were racist – that needs to be proven in court – but the police have a responsibility to treat people in a manner that won’t harm them. Kneeling on someone’s neck till the breath is squeezed out of them is deplorable. But I would separate this from those using these incidents to push anti-British, anti-American, and anti-Western ideologies.
ROS: You’re known as being an anti-lockdown politician. Why is that?
DK: It’s extraordinary what’s happened to society over the last ten months, with only one narrative available to those plugged into the media. It’s almost psychological abuse, making people scared of something they don’t need to be scared of! There is a virus, but it isn’t the Black Death. […] It is also very bad for mental health. Suicides are happening in increasing numbers, people have lost their businesses, support groups have disappeared. If you’re stuck in a tower block it’s like being in a prison. The 1968 Hong Kong Flu had a higher mortality, but nobody locked down and nobody got frightened. I get a lot of abuse online and there’s no excuse for that; I’m pro-freedom rather than anti-lockdown.
[The government] are claiming something like 50,000 cases a day but they’re positive PCR tests, not cases. Some of these questions are the most blindingly obvious questions for the media to ask. Why are they not being asked? Why are they not probing the difference between the gene technologies being erroneously called vaccines when they’re synthesised RNA rather than live attenuated viruses? In any case, we don’t need vaccines when the recovery rate is over 99%.
ROS: What would you say to those who are worried about minorities and LGBT under your leadership?
DK: I don’t agree with Stonewall, I don’t agree with LGBT lessons for school children under the age of consent, I don’t agree with teaching transgenderism to toddlers. I would, however, welcome any gay conservatives into our party if they support our manifesto. Our manifesto is very clear that marriage is between a man and a woman and some gay people agree with us on that. There are also some people who are joining us because they agree with 90% of our manifesto and agree to disagree on the remaining 10%. I’m building a broad coalition of conservatives and perhaps libertarians. For those that object to our stance, they have four other parties to vote for, all with the same position on this issue.
ROS: You’ve mentioned Sadiq Khan, who you’ve been working with at the London Assembly. What are the three best and three worse things he’s done in office?
DK: I wouldn’t say I’ve been working with him! [Laughs] More holding him accountable. I disagree with almost everything he says. He is what he is. I struggle to think of three things he’s done which I support. The bus corridors were one. There was one time he gave a good speech at the annual ceremony to honour armed forces. That’s the one time I’ve seen him honour the forces without being political. The third is that I supported his stance opposing the privatisation of the probation service. Nothing relating to criminal justice should ever be privatised.
I disagree with everything else. Every category of crime has increased by 50% or more under Khan, whether knife crime, homicide, rape or burglary. I disagree with his so-called green transport policies which have made London worse. He also supported that deeply insulting balloon of President Trump which was an insult to the people of the United States. I tried to challenge him on that but he thought it was a great laugh. Can you imagine if another nation had done that with the Queen? Now he’s planning to extend the ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) to the North and South Circular Roads. If you have an older car that means you will have to pay £27 instead of £12 to drive into London. That would affect 4 million people. As mayor, I would put a stop to those plans.
ROS: Where do you hope to see London ten years from now?
DK: Booming and happy again! [Laughs] I want to see businesses open, music venues open, public spaces that are beautiful and enjoyable. I want London to be somewhere life is good. We will continue to have a place on the world stage, as we’ve been a global city for 300 years and a trading nation for longer. We are connected to the world geographically but also because we are an internet superhighway. London is a hub for digital tech companies. I would also like to see London become more integrated into Britain again, as I don’t think it’s healthy when the capital city becomes so detached from the rest of the country. We need to find pride in being English and being British once again.