I achieved elected office for the first time in May 1982, representing the marginal ward of Cowley, Uxbridge in the London Borough of Hillingdon and lost it four years later in 1986. I had been offered a safer seat but refused to go on the “chicken run” just to stay in office. The best lesson an aspiring politician can have is that democracy swings both ways and you can’t only defend democacy when you win.
Four years later I returned to Hillingdon Council representing Ickenham and represented the ward continuously until 2002 when I transferred to the area in which I live, Harefield, and have now been elected to represent the village three times.
Between 1991 and 2000 I was also the Leader of the Conservative Group and Leader of the Council between 1991 and 1993. In 1998, a year after the Conservatives defeat in the general election, I achieved a 14.6%, swing taking Hillingdon council back from Labour. In July 2000, I stood down following my election to the Greater London Authority as Member for Ealing and Hillingdon. I had campaigned against the establishment of the GLA and the directly elected Mayoralty, lost the referendum, and determined to make the seat Conservative. On the eve of the election both the Evening Standard and The Times predicted that the constituency was “safe Labour”. Thanks to the dedication and hard work that everyone put in, and to my delight, they were proved wrong and have been ever since – my majority has now grown from 6,300 to 28,700.
I am now a convinced supporter of the institution of the directly elected Mayor of London and a Strategic Authority (GLA). Though the structure needs reforming, London is too important a city to rely solely on a distant ‘Minister in Parliament’ with no electoral mandate.
Following Boris Johnson’s victory over Ken Livingstone and his election as Mayor of London, he did me the honour of appointing me as his Statutory Deputy Mayor of London. My responsibilities, in addition to standing in for the Mayor, include social policy, equality and access for the 2012 Olympic games, Responsible Procurement, Diversity Works for London, representing London to the international community, community cohesion and London Resilience.