On May 6, millions of Londoners will vote in the mayoral election.
The Labour Party’s Sadiq Khan, the current mayor of the capital city, is expected to hold onto his position, with the right-wing Conservative Party candidate Shaun Bailey lagging in opinion polls.
But a range of outsider candidates intend to challenge Khan, including drill rapper Drillminister, who describes himself as “representing the working class”.
Al Jazeera spoke to the aspiring politician about his agenda of curbing homelessness, crime and pollution.
Al Jazeera: Drill music has often been decried by politicians as supporting violence and YouTube has deleted drill music videos, at the request of police. Why does drill music rile some officials?
Drillminister: Because it is the country’s dirty secret, it exposes everything the government does not want us to see and to admit. Drill music is often made by people who come from neglected communities. It highlights everything politicians want to hide like the underprivileged reality of poverty that politicians created.
Al Jazeera: Why have you decided to run for London mayor?
Drillminister: I did not believe that people from my background, London’s true working-class, were truly represented. Many people feel like their voices aren’t heard and so they shy away from politics. I want to change that and this campaign is just the start of my political career. I will keep going even if I am not elected as London mayor.
The UK is politically rigged, and this election has not been fair because of the COVID restrictions, which did not allow us to lead a fair campaign.
I could not stand on the street and give out flyers while Sadiq Khan had his face on large billboards all over the city. You cannot call it a free election when the current mayor gets to decide who is allowed to do what.
Al Jazeera: What issues affect working-class Londoners?
Drillminister: Every issue imaginable. I want to focus on homelessness, which is a big problem that costs the city a lot of money. When people on the street get ill, they need to go to the hospital, need ambulances, medical and social care. All of this costs us. If we could eliminate homelessness, make sure people have a place to live, it would save us a lot of money in the long run.
I would also like to introduce proxy addresses. These are temporary addresses where people can collect mail and basic information, ensuring they don’t lose access to vital services. It could help the homeless back into society. This initiative was introduced in the US and is now trialled in London. I want to roll it out across all boroughs.
I also want to improve the housing shortage. Sadiq Khan promised to build 10,000 homes by 2022 for £1.67 billion ($2.29bn). Only a fraction of those houses were actually built. Corona or no corona, this is not acceptable. Londoners need transparency, to know how their money is being used instead of empty promises.
Al Jazeera: In your song Choke, you rap about the politics of pollution. As London mayor, what policies would you put in place to improve this?
Drillminister: One of our main tasks is to look at where we build main roads. There have been too many wrong political decisions concerning London transport. We need to consider where we build in relation to school locations and protect our children from pollutants.
We should also pay attention to tools like pollution.org that help us pin down which areas we need to improve. We should ensure that people and local politicians know and use technological tools like pollution.org to build healthier communities instead of forcing people to live in highly polluted areas. This needs to happen through local councils, and I, as mayor, would strive to make sure they have the right tools to make the rights decisions.
I would also make sure that nobody is forced to live in highly polluted areas because of unaffordable housing costs elsewhere.
Al Jazeera: Where do you stand on the political spectrum?
Drillminister: Most people view me as leaning towards the left, but I would like to think of myself as neither left nor right. I see where people on both sides of the spectrum are coming from.
Just because right-wing voters believe in making a profit, it doesn’t mean we disagree on humanity’s fundamental values. I recognise that social values need to be financially viable as well as helping the community.
For example, if we don’t take care of homelessness, we will be paying much more for emergency shelters and healthcare than what we would if we make sure people have roofs over their heads.
Al Jazeera: Fighting crime looks to be a key battleground for the elections in May. How would you approach the issue of rising crime? What specific policies and measures would you put in place?
Drillminister: I want to challenge people’s perception of where crime comes from, as many do not think about who stands behind these numbers.
We need to guide our young people through the obstacles of life in London. We expect them to navigate a capitalist lifestyle driven by money, money and more money. We are training them to get rich fast to survive London life so we can’t be surprised when we see rises in crime. In other words, crime is generated by the concoction of increased pressure to make money and lack of moral support for our youth.
Political decisions, like increasing funding for the police force, trickle down into poor communities that could instead benefit from funding bottom-up initiatives that work on the streets with people from the community.
Some London organisations work with young offenders, children who have trouble with school or are on the brink of being expelled. We need to invest in these organisations to put youth back on track because once they go down the wrong path, it’s hard to help them get back up.
All this means taking a preventative approach, rather than buying more plasters like we have done so far. More police officers won’t solve the core of rising crime, whereas supporting community regeneration might.