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Mayoral candidate Ivan Massow would like to spend the night with you

Nick Duffy July 20, 2015

Out Mayoral candidate Ivan Massow is asking Londoners to let him spend the night with them.

The out entrepreneur – who is facing off against candidates including Zac Goldsmith and Sol Campbell for the Tory nomination for Mayor of London – said in a campaign video that he wants to experience the everyday life of as many Londoners as possible.

He said: “I want to find out what you like, and what you don’t like, and I want to know what you would change to make it better.

“To do this, I want to live with you… it will only be for a night! I want you to show me where you go out, where your kids go to school, where you work, what the transport’s like, and what winds you up.

“I want to make sure my policies will make your policies better.”

Mr Massow is an openly gay businessman who first rose to prominence in the 1990s, when he began offering financial services and insurance specially catered to gay people.

Speaking to PinkNews at his own breakfast table this morning, Mr Massow said he hopes to spend the night with one Londoner from every borough – adding that he “promises to be good”.


He said that he wants to be able to understand the problems that Londoners from across the city face – ahead of the Conservative Party’s open primary.

Mr Massow also spoke to PinkNews about LGBT issues within the city:

Gay venues in London are going through a real rough patch – from the Black Cap closing to Madame JoJo’s, with uncertainty over the RVT’s future. As Mayor of London, what would you do to reverse this trend?

There is a possibility and people are genuinely looking into it – I don’t know if I would have the power as Mayor, to look at whether you could list certain types of businesses. At the end of the day, I still believe in a free market. If someone owns that building, they ultimately do need the right to do with it as they see fit.

Madame JoJo’s was there, and it was amazing – people are talking about the changes in Soho, and the changes in Vauxhall – but when I was growing up, Soho wasn’t that gay. The gay area was Earl’s Court… the Coleherne – which from my generation was probably the most iconic gay venue – is now a gastro-pub full of yummy mummies.

I was part of the campaign to try to preserve all of those things, I went to the Black Cap with Julian Clary a lot, Madame Jojo’s was the first gay venue I ever went out to in London. At the end of the day, I still think that the London gay scene is a constantly evolving entity, and will find other amazing, wonderful venues around London, and populate new parts of London like it’s always done.

Look at Dalston! The gays took over Dalston, and now everyone wants to be in Dalston. It hasn’t even got a tube line… Peckham, Camberwell, Stockwell – these areas have been gentrified largely by the gay population. Even Brixton has gone through a radical change.

I know the answer for everyone on PinkNews will be ‘I will do this and this’, but I’d be lying. I like the evolution of the gay scene, and I know it will find it’s way through. It’s sad for me – but I don’t know if I would intervene.

We recently found out that the Black Cap is set to become a cafe. Is there a danger we’re losing our culture completely?

There’s a limit to what you can do in that situation. I’m not sure what you could do in that situation, or if it’s desirable.

It’s not just the gay community I’m getting this problem with. Sitting round the tables in Brixton, I’m getting people now who are worried about the culture of Brixton and us moving in, and destroying what they see as their heritage and their community.

In the 1960s, when lots of immigrants came and lived in Brixton and rightly took over the place – my dad, who was a very old fashioned guy – I remember the things he used to say. He wasn’t in any way pleased about the then-change!

But I think it’s all constantly evolving.

A recent PinkNews poll with YouGov found that across all of the UK, people in London are the least likely to accept a gay or trans child.

While we have the concept of London as a home of the metropolitan elite, it’s still struggling with these problems. What would you do to break down these barriers?

I read that – it’s shocking.

The Greater London Authority has its own culture department, and I think that re-enforcing the ideal that London is multi-cultural and an amazing, inclusive place through that department should be a main priority.

One of the reasons, of course, why that’s such an issue is there are so many various kinds of immigrants and Orthodox families – from Muslim through to Jewish through to Christian Orthodox families.

It’s part of being in a different kind of global city. In the rest of the UK – that kind of racial and social and religious mix is less.

I think native Londoners have had longer to come to terms with diversity, and are in that respect more sophisticated. That does rub off, and one way we can do it is by encouraging schools to talk more openly about sexuality.

We need to have a greater conversation with London about inclusiveness and diversity – and making it clear that this is a principal cultural export. This is what we do as a global city.

How would you deal with specific parts of London where homophobia is ingrained? In Tower Hamlets, for example, a gay Conservative councillor has even experienced homophobia inside the council chamber. How do you reach out in areas like that?

There’s a big problem – at the moment we’re looking at housing.  I’d quite like to change [planning law] Section 106, so you pepper-pot people throughout society.

Especially in Tower Hamlets, you have vast blocks of people who come from exactly the same racial and religious backgrounds, and I think they create a bubble of acceptance that tolerates intolerance. It doesn’t allow for a different kind of view.

Once you start encouraging people to live a more integrated life, and come up against people’s values on a daily basis, that will start happening automatically.

At this point, we’re looking at complete estate regeneration, where you knock down entire estates and you rebuild them. In Hackney, we’ve seen them take one estate that was 1,800 units, and they’ve created 5,500 units. At that point you can make sure that the distribution of housing is much more reflective of the outside world. Some are right to buy, some are fully owned, some are affordable rents, and some are social housing – so you don’t just have a mass of one type of housing.

Tower Hamlets has specific issues as well – you have a big Bangladeshi community, for instance, all being placed in one block. Clearly, that’s backfired.

There’s been criticism in recent years that the Mayor of London is becoming a part-time role. The Mayor of New York marches at Pride every year without fail, but the Mayor of London has been too busy five years in a row. As someone very successful in other ways, how would you make sure you’re a full-time Mayor?

I don’t want to criticise Boris [Johnson], he’s done an amazing job – but it does surprise me that he’s been able to hold down so many others at the same time!

He’s also been a very successful mayor, though, and I think that’s to do with the fact he’s delegated to people who really know their job.

I would still want to be more hands on, because I think there’s room for improvement. For example, in New York the Mayor will call in borough commanders on a lottery system every week.

At the moment, the London Mayor devolves responsibility for policing to the Deputy, who then speaks to the Chief of Police, who talks down the pyramid. What the Mayor should do is speak to the actual borough commanders, and go through their figures, and find out how they can help them. You can get right to the nub of the issues.

I think it’s about being very hands on. I completely agree – I’ve sold all my businesses, and all my interests to do this… probably slightly prematurely! For the last year I haven’t done anything other than this, other than unpaid charity roles.

That must be quite scary! What’s your plan if things don’t go well?

There’s no such thing as not going well! To quote Kipling, meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same. Also to quote him – fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run.

Just have a good day and do what I can do – and I will be as happy whatever the outcome is. I’ve had amazing ups and amazing downs in my time. What matters is calling your mum, and walking your dog, and meeting your friends – it just doesn’t matter. There will be plenty of opportunities, but whatever happens, this process has been the most enriching thing I’ve ever done.

Having to talk, having to give speeches, freaked me out to begin with. Last week I gave two speeches at university without even preparing notes. That’s what this process has given me – wonderful insight, and I’ve met amazing people. I’m certainly richer inside having done it, and more valuable.

More: Conservative, Gay, ivan massow, LGBT, London, mayor, mayoral, sexuality, Tory

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