So London has spoken, and Boris Johnson has been elected for another four years. Narrowly beating Ken Livingstone, we now have another four years of the maverick politician who somehow manages to glory in his ridiculous haircut, in a love for history and verbosity only exceeded by his ability for saying something guaranteed to offend, and in his role as champion of the cyclists.
I think this election tells us that Londoners like mavericks. Boris is well known for being a politician who will speak his mind, who frequently goes “off-message”, and who cannot be controlled by the party officials in suits. It’s difficult to imagine him holding a serious cabinet position in a Conservative government, but for some reason we feel happy to elect such a politician to be Mayor of London.
The same is true for Ken Livingstone. So at odds with the official Labour Party that he had to defy them and stand as an independent when he was first elected Mayor in 2000, he too stands as a maverick within his own party. Londoners like someone who they feel has an independent mind, and will do what they want to do, rather than what a party boss will tell them to do. Perhaps this also explains the relative success of Siobhan Benita, the one independent candidate in the election, who polled practically as many votes as the Lib Dems and the Green Party, but without any of their party infrastructure to back her.
But now that the dust has settled, what should we be praying for our Mayor of London? I want to suggest three areas where we should be praying for guidance for him:
Security: The Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics are huge events to be policed. Decisions on bringing war ships up the Thames and placing missiles on the tops of blocks of flats are already proving controversial. Pray for wisdom in all the decisions to be made, and above all for a safe summer period throughout London.
Transport: Always a key issue in London, there are massive decisions to be taken on how transport should be funded across the capital (government subsidy, purely for profit, or a mixture of both?), on how to keep costs down on the Crossrail project, and on what to do about London’s airport traffic. A third runway at Heathrow, Boris Island airport, something else, or none at all? These decisions will affect London for decades to come. Pray for wisdom in the decisions to be made.
Community: This is perhaps the hardest of all, since it’s not one decision to be taken, but a whole series of policy choices that need to add up to something greater than the individual parts. The riots of last August showed there are serious issues of division, disenfranchisement and even despair for many young people across the city. Pray for wisdom in the thousands of decisions on planning, policing, housing, education and more, that they would create a future filled with hope for those currently feeling a distinct lack of hope about their future in our city.
Whatever your political persuasion, your Mayor needs your prayers. Will you commit to praying for him over the coming years?
Mark Williamson is a founding director of One Rock International, a training organisation resourcing missionary leaders across the globe. He’s also passionate about praying for London, getting into deep conversations, and going for long walks with his wife Joanna.