London Mayoral candidate Prince John Zylinski: ‘Cyclists need number plates’
- Credit: Archant
Prince John Zylinski may be an outsider in the London Mayoral race, but he thinks he’s got what it takes. Sam Gelder met the man who promises a million houses (and trees) if elected.
“I’m a ‘cake and eat it’ man. The cake is infinitely big,” explains Prince John Zylinski. “Most people in politics argue about how big it should be for each thing – I am in favour of expanding the cake.”
The London Mayoral candidate is trying to simplify his views on capitalist London while sipping a “green veg” smoothie in hip organic shop Harvest E8 in Kingsland High Street, Dalston.
We’ve arranged to meet in the heart of Hackney so he can get an idea of the local issues he will have to tackle should he defy all odds and win next month’s election.
The Polish aristocrat hit the headlines last year when he challenged Nigel Farage to a duel using his father’s sword. He arrives for our interview half-an-hour late and swordless, and immediately starts chatting to locals.
First up is Parisian model Betty Doye, who happily poses for a photo with him, something the waitress he approaches (twice) is not so keen on. So what does he think of Dalston?, I ask, steering the conversation.
“It’s very London,” he says. “It’s got that London grit that hasn’t been destroyed.”
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I tell him of the possible demolition of the Bradbury Street buildings for Crossrail 2.
“What people never think of in this country,” he says, “is that you can demolish historical buildings brick by brick and then rebuild them 100 yards away. The Chinese do it all the time.”
This gets him talking about his first policy pledge of building one million homes in four years – 10 times more than Boris Johnson has managed in his two terms.
“Yes, it is ambitious,” admits Prince Zylinski, who has been a property developer for 30 years. “I’ll make 250,000 affordable. There will be no one in a few years to buy flats in this place. Young people don’t want that – they want somewhere to live.
“People are kicking up a fuss about Crossrail 2 but you get that whenever anything is proposed anywhere in London, as if it was a crime.”
I ask how he would endear himself to the people of Hackney. Having asked, and been refused, advice from the Gazette, he looks around the cafe and says: “Well, they care about the environment and are health conscious. My second policy would appeal to them. It’s about trees.
“I would plant one million trees, one every three yards. Anybody who gets planning permission for anything – a kitchen extension, loft conversion – they pay an extra £50 to £100 for the council to plant a tree. They’d get a little plaque with their name on it. It gives people a sense of ownership.
“And it’s very important to combat pollution. That’s why I would ban Nigel Farage from London. Without newcomers from abroad this city would grind to a halt in 10 minutes.”
Trying to keep the discussion Hackney-focused, I move him onto cycling.
“When I was young I had 10 bikes,” he claims. “I used to restore them.”
What about cyclists in London?, I ask.
“If cyclists want to be taken seriously they need to have number plates,” he says. “They won’t like it, and I support their rights, but if they want their rights to be respected by more Londoners – and a lot of people hate cyclists – then they need to integrate themselves a lot more.”
I ask again why Hackney people should vote for him.
“I want to build five times as many homes as Labour and the Tories,” he says. “The mayor has vast planning powers. Boris has used them 12 times – I will use them 12 times a day.”
He then names his favourite leaders: Trump, Boris, Obama.
“Zac [Goldsmith] is a Barbie doll and Sadiq Khan has had a charisma bypass,” he says. “You need experience. What people want is leadership, the ability to communicate in a way that touches their lives.”
Prince Zylinski never gets as far as his third pledge.