London’s ‘Joe Rogan’ and crypto advocate Brian Rose makes bid for mayor

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Pro-crypto American businessman Brian Rose is running for London mayor again.

Londoners go to the polls on May 2 to elect their next mayor, with incumbent Sadiq Khan and Susan Hall as leading candidates.

Rose previously stood for election in 2021, securing 1.2% of the vote, but expects to improve on that tally this time around.

Rose spoke with Cointelegraph to explain why he decided to stand again in 2024.

“I love London so much. I’ve been there for over 20 years. This city’s given me everything: my business, my purpose. My two children were born here. I plan to be buried in the city,” said Rose. “So it’s my way of giving back.”

Rose, a fierce advocate for freedom of speech, conducts long-form interviews on his “Digital Freedom Platform,” drawing comparisons with major podcaster Joe Rogan. His guests cover topics such as politics, wellness, self-improvement and wealth. Many of Rose’s interview subjects hail from the world of blockchain and cryptocurrency, informing his political outlook.

Rose told Cointelegraph that the current leadership of the United Kingdom isn’t doing enough to promote the crypto industry.

“I really believe we could push London as a crypto-first city and bring in massive amounts of business and industry,” said Rose. “Unfortunately, we just don’t have that right now, and the prime minister is paying crypto a bunch of lip service.”

In 2022, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stated his intention to make the U.K. “a global hub for crypto asset technology,” but in 2024, evidence of progress toward this goal remains scant.

Rose argues that Sunak is not the only one underperforming. The entrepreneur also believes the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) — which regulates cryptocurrency in the U.K. — is misfiring.

“The FCA and the other organizations are literally pushing companies out, and that’s a shame,” said Rose.

Blockchain use cases and London coin

Rose tells Cointelegraph that his association with Bitcoin (BTC) and cryptocurrency is longstanding.

London Real regularly features high-profile names from the cryptocurrency world. The entrepreneur explains how he previously attracted big names to interview:

“I started featuring the top 100 people in crypto, and they said ‘yes’ because I had two million YouTube subscribers. That’s probably the biggest channel they would ever be on,” he said.

“I could have Michael Saylor, Raoul Pal, Yat Siu and most of the layer-1 founders — Justin Sun, Hedera Hashgraph, Avax — and they taught me about the blockchain.”

“I had Max Keiser on my show in 2013 talking about Bitcoin. That’s when I bought my first Bitcoin and went down the rabbit hole. I would later have Andreas Antonopoulos on my show in 2015, ‘17 and ‘19. Some people call him the Bitcoin Jesus,” said Rose.

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Rose is further pushing a policy agenda that is heavy on cryptocurrency and blockchain. One of his proposals to win over Londeners is the creation of a “London coin.”

According to Rose, the token would put the equivalent of £100 into the hands of every London resident, sourcing liquidity from a tax on the traditional financial sector.

“We want to inject it with 1 billion pounds of liquidity, with a one-off 1% tax from the banks, who make all of their money in the City of London and probably don’t pay anything back,” said Rose.

“Then, what we would do is put that in the wallets and hands of every man, woman and child and use them to stake that for additional yields, allowing them to pay for public transport and other services with that and that alone. If we can make that work over the next 12 months, it could literally be copied by so many other cities.”

Rose added, “I want something super functional that’ll have DeFi practicalities in there as well. So that’s the plan for the London coin.”

Blockchain for democracy

For Rose, blockchain goes beyond financial applications. The electoral hopeful also advocates using blockchain to secure the voting system, citing a 2005 Ipsos study that showed “two in five British voters are concerned about election fraud.”

While that study may be a little long in the tooth, more recent events in London are unlikely to have improved voter confidence. In 2015, Lutfur Rahman, the London mayor of the Tower Hamlets borough in East London, was found guilty of election fraud. Rahman was ordered to pay £250,000, and the election was re-run. Rahman was excluded from standing that year.

In March 2022, Communities Minister Kemi Badenoch wrote to the Metropolitan Police and the Electoral Commission, expressing concerns that voting fraud could occur again. In May 2022, Rahman was reelected to Tower Hamlets.

Rose sees a similar problem across the Atlantic, pointing to an erosion in voter trust after the last United States presidential elections.

“After the 2020 elections, especially in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I heard a lot of people say there hasn’t been a fair election in that city for 100 years,” said Rose.

In an April 25 press release, Rose said blockchain “can help the electorate see and interrogate voting, as well as securing the electoral process, providing a permanent, accessible and reliable record.”

Regarding London elections, Rose told Cointelegraph, “I’m not accusing anyone of election fraud, but I am saying that the job of London Elects is to make the British public confident that their vote matters.”

London Elects is the body responsible for the mayoral elections in London.

Brian Rose is running for mayor of London. Source: Brian Rose

Run-ins with Ofcom and YouTube

Rose, the host of the longstanding London Real podcast, is not without critics or controversy.

In fact, much of Rose’s politics are intertwined with his podcast and the events surrounding its broadcast.

In 2020, during the U.K.’s COVID-19 lockdown, Rose broadcast an episode of London Real featuring professional conspiracy theorist David Icke. Icke is best known for popularizing the theory that the U.K. royal family are shapeshifting lizards from outer space (or another dimension).

Free speech advocate Rose told Cointelegraph, “I don’t agree with everything that my guests say by any means, but I believe they have the right to say it.”

In 2020, Icke offered a number of conspiracies regarding COVID-19. On London Real, Icke blamed an electromagnetic “soup of radiation toxicity” for compromising the immune systems of the elderly and said a cult was using the virus to create an “Orwellian global state” enabled by artificial intelligence.

The U.K.’s communications regulator, Ofcom, received 48 complaints about the London Real broadcast.

“We didn’t incite violence. We didn’t incite overthrows of governments. It was literally just two people talking. But I guess that was considered dangerous,” Rose said.

On the podcast, Rose resisted or outright disagreed with Icke’s theories.

“I do believe in the science, and I do believe in vaccines,” he told Icke at the time.

Despite this, Rose was censored, and the broadcast was removed from YouTube. Ofcom later ruled that the program “had the potential to cause significant harm to viewers in London during the Coronavirus crisis.”

Digital Freedom Platform

The censorship of his YouTube channel set Rose on a path to creating the “Digital Freedom Platform,” a website that hosts London Real broadcasts. He no longer uploads to YouTube, telling Cointelegraph that he was permanently deplatformed eight months ago.

Rose’s followers crowdfunded the Digital Freedom Platform to the tune of $1 million. During the raise, Rose stated that $200,000 would be earmarked for the application of blockchain technology.

Cointelegraph asked Rose how that blockchain integration was progressing.

“The problem is that putting video on the blockchain is still not doable,” Rose explained. “There are a couple of companies in Dubai right now that I’m talking to, but right now, from a bandwidth perspective, it’s just nearly impossible.”

He added, “I would love to do it because we continue to be censored.”

In an interview with PoliticsJoe in April 2021, Rose gave another reason for not implementing blockchain into the Digital Freedom Platform. He said he’d “already spent the money” on other aspects of the platform, including livestreams.

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When Cointelegraph spoke with Rose, the broadcaster was in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, promoting his documentary film We Will Not Be Silenced. The documentary centers on the censorship of London Real in 2020 and stars David Icke, with whom Rose has fostered an ever-closer working relationship in recent years.

At the premiere, Rose said, “Before I was an advocate for free speech, but now I’m a fanatic […] they chose the wrong white boy to f*ck with.”

Rose tells Cointelegraph he plans to spend the final few days of the campaign back in London, aiming to secure every last vote he can. Should the entrepreneur capture five percent of the vote or more, it would strengthen the case for Rose to be included in future televised mayoral debates — if he decided to stand again.

London goes to the polls on May 2.