18 Mar 2022

Introducing John Kohut your Green candidate for Cricklewood and Mapesbury ward


The people of Brent need a credible opposition to break Labour’s monopoly on council power and to hold our council to account. As a journalist for three decades at some of the world’s most trusted news organisations including Reuters, Bloomberg, WSJ, Sunday Times, and others, I have spent all my adult life challenging authority by asking questions, insisting on answers, and forming conclusions based on evidence. Not empty assertions, like the ones Brent councillors make, but carefully considered analyses based on research. My skills can serve Brent residents by pressing for clarity and transparency.


The Labour Party manifesto claims that our council spends our money wisely. But I do not believe residents agree. Witness, for example, the failed Low Traffic Neighbourhood fiasco, the full cost of which the council has not revealed. 


How can anyone know what is in the budget given the sloppy, impenetrable, incomplete way in which the council has written it? In its latest budget, the council says 48% respondents said, “that they had ‘nothing at all’ or ‘not very much’ understanding of the Council’s overall financial position and the need to both increase council tax and deliver savings.” I can press for clear, timely, plain-language communications from the council. Better yet, I can offer to help the council draw up budgets and other documents based on my experience as a financial journalist, a business executive, a consultant, a writer, and an online instructor of business writing.


I know the Labour Party from being a member of it until last year when I withdrew because of the impossibility of getting Labour councillors to discuss issues meaningfully. This includes the Equality Act of 2010, legislation passed by the last Labour government to prevent discrimination against the disabled. The councillors I have spoken with do not understand what the act means to those of us who are disabled. I have faced discrimination based on my disabilities and the Labour Party councillors just do not care. What they care about—to quote a Labour Party “activist” for disability issues--is getting elected. 


Naturally, we cannot expect everyone to know about everything that matters to us. But my councillors did not want to discuss my concerns or learn about the act. The outgoing mayor did not turn up for a phone call appointment she agreed to 18 months after promising to address my concerns. She sent my email to the council executive, a band of eight people who control the council. I have not heard back. As of writing, that was ten months ago. I am not upset because they did not agree with my views. I am shocked that they refused to discuss issues the Labour Party purports to care about.. In their budget, councillors talk about the Equality Act being at the centre of council policies. But lack of action suggests otherwise

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