The Millennial 'Hippie 2.0' Running for Mayor of London to Legalize Weed and Fix the Housing Crisis
Ankit Love founded the One Love Party when he was living in a youth hostel, and he turned up at our office yesterday to talk about it.
This article originally appeared on VICE UK.
Earlier this week, a mayoral candidate walked into the VICE London office. Not Zac Goldsmith, hoping to prove he does actually know the name of a Bollywood film, after telling reporters he "loves" Bollywood at the Asian Awards and then not being able to recall literally a single movie title. Not Sadiq Khan, either, hoping for some tips—any tips—on how to come across as even slightly charismatic.
If you haven't heard of him, don't worry. Not a lot of people have—he doesn't have the campaigning budget of your Goldsmiths, Khans, or that smiley, thumby guy standing for the British Nationalist Party. But he is a candidate for Thursday's mayoral vote.
A self-styled "hippie 2.0" who's been affected by the housing crisis and is $29,000 in debt, he's at least someone you can probably relate to. So I spoke to him about his bid for London mayor to see what kind of changes the One Love Party is hoping to introduce.
VICE: Ankit, what are your main policies?
Ankit Love: Our core policies are, first, on air pollution—to end the emissions in London, the nitrogen oxide, by basically converting all vehicles in the city into solar, electric, and hydrogen. It's such a core policy. The next one is the housing crisis, which is to build one million new social housing homes on land already owned by TFL [Transport for London], with a new breakthrough in modular construction. Our third policy is to legalize cannabis in London.
OK. Why are those three things so important to you and the party?
Well, I feel very passionate about them. I went through the housing crisis myself, and I'm still technically homeless right now—I live in a recording studio in a room with no windows and no heating. I'm all for fair business, but it's like feudalism—there's the land-owning lords, and everybody else is paying them. I don't like that.
What about the weed?
I feel really passionate about legalizing cannabis, because it's actually a crime in itself that it's illegal. I think the law was originally based on racism, and it funds all the criminal activity in our society.
Surely cannabis legalization has to be dealt with at a national level, though?
Well, I would like it to be done through private enterprise and state-run dispensaries. In the US, states can decide these things for themselves. London has such a large population that, if we win, I've got millions of people behind me for this. So I'll have dispensaries licensed to sell clearly labelled products, and I'll instruct the police not to touch anyone who has clearly labelled stuff from our dispensaries—so if the government wants to mess with anyone, he or she has to take us to court.
Fair enough. Tell me more about your plans to tackle the housing crisis.
Well, the main political parties want the private sector to sort it out. I said, "No, I'm building high-rise social homes, but not the 1960s high rises." I'm a designer and film director who knows how to make beautiful things, so I'll oversee it. My plan uses flat-packed construction, which makes prefabricated skyscrapers. You can erect a fifty-seven-story building in nineteen days, at a fraction of the cost.
What motivated you to run for mayor?
Well, I've always been involved in politics through my family, but recently, I went through a personal crisis where I lost my house and ended up in a youth hostel. While in the hostel, I met a lot of young people, and in talking to them, I inspired them, and we ended up forming a political party in the youth hostel. So we formed the political party, and there was a mayoral election coming along, so I thought I could make a change. I know how to do it: I know how to legislate, and I know how to campaign, so let's try.
Is this not your first foray into politics?
Well, I was born with the name "Love" because I was born in a war zone [near Kashmir], so my mum named me Love when I was born in the hope that I'd bring peace there. I moved here in 1989 because it got so dangerous there. I was playing with bullets outside, and my parents wanted me to have a normal upbringing. They sent me to an American school here in London, then I studied arts in LA, where I experimented with music and film, which probably led to my experimental and avant-garde politics. But living in the youth hostel and seeing the [effects of] austerity and talking to the kids, they really listened to me, so I founded the party then, and there with others who had hit hard times.
What sort of team do you have behind you at the moment?
We have Pax Brown—he's the general secretary for the party. He's twenty-four. My co-founder, Ben, from Cambridge, is thirty. We have an LSE [London School of Economics] student who's nineteen, and we have a party member who's currently in Kashmir. He's a filmmaker there.
OK. So who does the One Love Party represent?
Well, nobody really represents the youth in politics currently—just look at the other guys: Nobody relates to youth culture and what the people want. I think they need One Love because we're young—everybody in the party is young—and we share the same problems. Nobody champions these things.
The chances of you winning the election are slim. Do you think many people will vote for you?
I concur, they're very slim. But we're the One Love Party, based on techno-progressive values. We've put ourselves out here to solve these issues in a practical way, using modern technology and modern values. If we just get five percent [of the vote], that's one hundred thousand people, going by the thirty-eight percent turnout last election. That would get us third in the election. If we come third, at least every young person in the country will know about us and want to be a part of the movement.