Sadiq Khan vows to stand up for London ahead of fight for City Hall

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LONDON: Mayor Sadiq Khan is ready to fight for City Hall this May. Here, in a forthright interview, he talks to Ayesha Hazarika and Joe Murphy about Labour in crisis, immigration and why the Prime Minister must address his ‘blind spot’ on race

Sadiq Khan is clearly confident that he’ll be re-elected as London’s Mayor in May. When we ask him about his first and possible second term in office, he jokes about a third. “You know the history of this city. This is going to be a two-horse race between me and the Conservative candidate. I’m saying to those who voted Lib Dem, Green and Tory at the general election — lend me your vote if you want someone to stand up for London.” 

According to Evening Standard report, if that phrase sounds familiar, it’s because the Prime Minister used it right after he won a landslide victory in December, in reference to the record numbers of Labour voters who switched to the Conservatives.

Khan’s analysis of why Labour lost so badly comes down to a lack of leadership, empathy and trust. But there was more. “You can’t equivocate on some of the most important issues of the day like Brexit and sit on the fence. You end up pleasing nobody.” 

Khan’s term as London Mayor hasn’t been easy. He has presided over the capital at a difficult time, seeing a rise in terror attacks — notably two incidents on London Bridge, and the Finsbury Park mosque attack — as well as a knife crime epidemic.

The capital remains in a housing crisis — with many young people unable to get on the ladder, and with a shortage of homes available. Khan’s critics have been quick to say that he’s not done enough to tackle these big issues. 

Still, he thinks Labour could learn from him when it comes to winning elections. “There was a route to winning the election where I could just rely upon those who’ve always voted Labour to win. That’s not the sort of mayor I wanted to be. I hope I’ve shown I am a mayor for all boroughs. The same goes for national politics.” 

He says his style of leadership is down to communication with those across the political spectrum. “Over the years, I’ve spent a lot of time talking to chief executives, investors, innovators but also … to people who work in retail, hospitality and bus depots.”