by Kirsty Gregory and Zara Hill
15:22- London Met students begin to gather in the Henry Thomas room to hear five panellists debate ‘What is a Londoner?’ The panellists include: Jennette Arnold OBE; London Met Post-graduate and filmmaker Kartel Brown; social commentator Maurice Mcleod, historian and author Catharine Arnold and Museum of London curator Foteini Aravani.
15:27- Sound check while more students come in, further prepare and take their seats for the event to start.
15:40 – First of the panellists, Kartel Brown, arrives and has a pre-interview with some student reporters.
15:48 – Catharine Arnold and Foteini Aravani have both arrived and are being interviewed by students to get original material before the debate starts.
15:58 – Remaining interviewees are delayed.
16:12 – Jennette Arnold arrives, followed by a pre-interview with students.
16:16 – Before the debate starts, Martin Murray Head of Creative Technology and Digital Media at London Metropolitan University, is asked: “What would you say is a Londoner?” He says: “I think it’s a hard question because it’s such a diverse place…London is not just where people are born, but where people move to.” He later adds: “There are types you can identify, but they change historically.”
16:24 – Maurice McLeod arrives last.
16:24 – Simon Cadman introduces the debate and panellists, starting with Jennette, and the event goes live.
16:26 – The audience are asked “Who was born in London?” Only a few put their hands up. Also, “How many were not born in London but consider themselves Londoners?” More raise their hands.
16:27 – The debate is introduced with information, summary and statistics on London.
16:32 – Simon asks the panel: “Do you all feel like Londoners?” Jennette says: “It’s my city of choice” Kartel says: “A Londoner is someone very tolerant and accepting… a Londoner is a spirit or a state of mind.” Catharine says: “I’ve always been drawn to London… It was an experience.” Foteini says: “Emotionally I feel like a Londoner,” and Maurice adds: “I’m a Londoner born and bred. I feel it’s almost a disadvantage. I’ve been accused of being London-conceited.”
16:38 – The first question from the audience is for Jennette: “London voted against Brexit, but are migrants placing a strain on its resources?” Jennette says: “What I found was a lot of misinformation, and they came from older Londoners, and they had taken on board the myth that Europeans are a drain on London.”
16:40 – Simon then asks Jenette: “What about waiting lists?” Jenette says: “If you get growth in the population, you should grow your services.”
16:43 – Jennette is then asked: “With it being International Women’s Day tomorrow, do you think women are equal in London?” Jennette says: “Where you see this unconscious bias at work, challenge it, because we’ve got a way to go.”
16:47 – Panellists are talking about Sadiq Kahn and the representation of Muslims in the press.
16:48 – Foteini says that “London is a city of opposition and juxtaposition” and “Brexit reflects a general view of Europe at the moment.”
16:51 – Catharine says she was “Pleased to see Sadiq in.”
16:52 – When talking about the Conservative campaign for London mayor, Catharine says: “I’m really ashamed that people interested in politics could stoop as low as they did.”
16:53 – The next question is for Kartel: “What is it about Londoners that makes knife crime such a big problem?”
16:54 – Kartel says: “We’re really failing men in our society, Knives are very easy and accessible weapons to get hold of. Gang activity is very real in London” and “It’s a really difficult question and I’m not sure I have the answer.”
16:55 – Jennette joins the discussion and talks about machetes and swords on the streets.
16:57 – Kartel says that he had emailed Jennette during a project and that she had replied saying that she was too busy to help and he felt that people are left to deal with crime for themselves. Kartel also contradicts Jennette by saying “it’s not just machetes, men are stabbing each other with regular kitchen knives.” He says: “How many young men and women have to die before politicians take this seriously?” and “The London Assembly are not doing enough.”
16:58 – Maurice McLeod says he tried to raise awareness of knife crime in ‘The Voice’ for over 20 years with no recognition.
17:00 – Kartel is then asked: “Given his racist and sexist views, should London welcome Trump?” Kartel says: “I don’t want anything to do with Trump.” Catharine says: “Mr Trump is narcissistic… he loves any kind of airtime” and “I don’t think he should come, and I think that after all these protests and trials happening recently it’s something that we can take control of.”
17:03- The next question is for Kartel: “How could we improve the strained relationship between the police and the black community?” Kartel says more communication is needed and that the police need to listen. He also says: “It’s a really damaged relationship that through the years has been carried through for generations and generations.”
17:05 – Maurice says that he was stopped while driving 32 times in three months.
17:08 – Jennette feels that it’s not the police service as a whole that are responsible for one police officer’s actions, the individual police officer should be investigated and dismissed.
17:11 – Kartel makes the point that just because fewer people are reporting crime doesn’t mean it’s still not a huge issue.
17:12 – Jennette says that each case reported is individually investigated and dealt with.
17:13 – Kartel is asked: “How do you think the decline of London’s nightlife will affect London and London’s future?” He says: “It’s a really dangerous time for young people especially as it’s going more underground” and “We’re one of the most thriving cities in the world – our nightlife needs to reflect that.”
17:16 – Catharine agrees, saying: “Soho became sanitised in the 1980s. We are one of, if not the most creative city in the world”, and “We’re ripping out the heart of our music community.”
17:17 – A student from the audience asks Catharine: “Why is London so dark to you?” She recalls a time when someone who had been stabbed came into a pub and talked about “bystander apathy”.
17:20 – A student asks Catharine: “For your past work would you say Londoners are more deviant than ever before?” Catharine says: “It’s easier to be deviant than ever before.”
17:21 – Another student asks Maurice: “Do Black Lives Matter in London? You’ve been tweeting about this recently.” Maurice says: “Racism is as institutional in the UK as it is in America, they’re just better at killing people over there.”
17:24 – Another student asks Maurice: “Do you think Londoners are welcoming enough to refugees?” He says: “I don’t know a single Londoner, a proper Londoner, who isn’t open to refugees.”
17:27 –An audience member also asks Foteini: “When did you start to feel a Londoner?” She says: “When I moved here I felt very comfortable. The city is very open.”
17:32 – To draw the debate to a close, Simon asks all of the panel: “If London was a person, what state of mind would he or she be in right now?”
Jennette: tense. “Londoners are being hammered from every side.”
Kartel: despair. He says: “What’s great is slowly being pushed out of London.”
Catharine: Samuel Pepys and worried. Laughter all around.
Foteini: irreverent. “A socially challenging and very interesting time.”
Maurice: paranoid but vaguely positive and drunk, which gets laughter.
17:35 – The debate has now finished, with a round of applause from the audience.