Monday, 25 April 2016

So who would win if the London mayoral candidates played Monopoly?

There are many ways a voter may decide how to judge the various London mayoral candidates. Some might think a candidate’s housing policy the key issue, for others maybe it’s transport. But what about whether they can play the ultimate London board game, Monopoly, or not.

Over the past couple of months my Metro colleague Sharon Lougher and I have interviewed the major candidates running for mayor. We’ve asked them about how they would tackle the housing crisis, what infrastructure London needs to cope with a growing population and what crime measures would be their focus. All agree housing is the key issue and many have found it difficult to separate it from transport, arguing that one can only be solved with work on the other.

But, while they might agree on the major issues, they disagree – particularly the leading candidates Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan – on their approaches to tackling the problems so voters are left with a genuine choice. 

To lighten the mood in an increasingly fraught contest, however, we also asked what their tactics are when playing Monopoly; which one would you trust to play the ultimate property board game and win?

Caroline Pidgeon
First up was Caroline Pidgeon. This crucial issue didn’t make the final edit in the paper, but her Monopoly tactics are to ‘buy the stations because they keep generating the revenue. Then I'd go for Mayfair’. Now, as a fellow transport enthusiast, I can only applaud the sentiment of wanting to secure the stations and I can understand the simple attraction of Mayfair. But, really, as a Monopoly tactic it is unlikely to prove a winner.

The full interview, where she talks about her transport plans, why Heathrow expansion should be stopped, how the Garden Bridge should be cancelled and Boris Johnson's legacy can be found here.

Sian Berry
Clearly, a fellow transport enthusiast, the Green Party candidate Sian Berry also said 'the stations!' when asked what she would target. You can read the full interview with Ms Berry here, where she talks about her plans to set up a renters' union across London to help private renters, getting rid of City Airport and the joys of Hampstead Heath.

Peter Whittle
Peter Whittle, the UKIP candidate, was at least honest about Monopoly admitting 'I've never completely understood the rules'.

'I used to make them up when I played my very impressionable sisters! For some reason I used to like the greens - Regent Street, Bond Street, Oxford Street. I thought they were attainable without being ostentatious.'

Bond Street is possibly a bit ostentatious these days and Regent Street, if not quite ostentatious, is certainly an advert for aspiration. But, regardless, it isn't a winning tactic for Monopoly. Peter Whittle's full interview, where he talks about tackling overcrowding in London, his love of the arts and meeting the Queen, is here.

Zac Goldsmith
Now, if there's one person who should know how to play Monopoly, it is Zac Goldsmith. He is, after all, almost wealthy enough to consider buying a space on a Monopoly board for real. Again, there wasn't enough space for the issue to make the final cut in the paper but he falls into the same trap as Caroline Pidgeon and Sian Berry.

'I would go for the train stations, to guard our precious transport infrastructure from Khan's £2bn blackhole.'

So, not a winning Monopoly strategy, but he's hoping with his overtly political answer to highlight again his major campaign theme that Sadiq Khan's plan to freeze transport fares for four years, if he becomes mayor, would blow a large hole in Transport for London's development budget. It's certainly a point of contention. Goldsmith talking of his love for Richmond Park, his plan to build houses and why Britain should leave the European Union can be found here.

Sadiq Khan
Sadiq Khan is another who really should have a grasp of how to play the game, being the son-of-a-bus driver, born and brought up in Tooting, as he's very keen to tell anyone that listens. And, it's pretty clear that he is practised at the game, as he replies:

'Buy early, and buy lots! Whether it's Old Kent Road or Park lane, buy, buy, buy.'

Finally, in the Monopoly stakes at least, a candidate has a potentially winning strategy. Whether he can win in London with his contested four-year freeze on fares and his affordable housing target of 50 per cent remains to be seen. For details on why he thinks those policies would work, and how he would like to step into a boxing ring with Barack Obama and that he definitely didn't woo his wife in McDonalds, see the full interview here.

Sophie Walker
But, an honourable mention also needs to be made for Sophie Walker, the leader and mayoral candidate for the Women's Equality party. Rather than engage in the competitive bluster of a Monopoly game, she pointed out what practical uses it can have. She said:

'I play with my daughter Grace, who has autism, and struggles with maths as well because she has dyscalculia. So when I play Monopoly my main strategy is to help her understand the value of the properties that she's buying and whether she can pay the mortgage.'

Here is someone with a sensible purpose for the game rather than one who wastes hours - albeit with sadistic glee - trying to bankrupt one's opponents. You can read more about the struggle for equal pay, trying to end violence against women and why Mary Wollstonecraft deserves a statue in London here.

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