Is Sadiq Khan Mayor for all Londoners?
Queen Mary University of London’s poll released found that Khan’s popularity was at an all-time low. Apparently, ‘more people still thought he did a good job rather than a bad job overall’.
As Labour introspect about their disappointing results in last week’s local elections, observers can draw some conclusions of their own— namely, that the brand of Marxist socialism cultivated by the Corbyn team has no commitment from Labour voters and that the endemic anti-Semitism within Labour has taken its toll on the popularity of the party. Perhaps it is time to examine the performance of the current London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, the wannabe Labour leader in waiting, who has all but failed to deliver his 2016 London manifesto.
Khan’s priority was to tackle the housing crisis. There are not sufficient affordable homes for London’s fast-growing population ( now scratching 8.8 million). Khan points his finger at developers only constructing for the wealthy but his own record for completing affordable homes is not competitive with the previous Mayor. According to the Greater London Authority Housing statistics, only 6,833 affordable and open market housing was completed between April 2017 and March 2018 and 5,355 of these were classified as affordable, but Khan himself has claimed that 66,000 homes are needed annually and 65% need to be in the affordable category. The Council tax in some Labour Boroughs is higher than the Council Tax in the neighbouring Conservative Boroughs.
Khan vowed to be probusiness and the greenest Mayor yet, to keep London Transport efficient and affordable and to keep Londoners safe whilst keeping Council Tax low. Khan’s campaign was that London was open for business. He told Bloomberg last month that 40% of the world’s companies have their European HQ in London. The GLA’s appropriately transparent website has information about everything, the April London economic overview states: Business activity growth at London private firms for March was lower than in February. London has seen the sharpest fall in annual house prices since the start of 2011 and London has reached the lowest unemployment rate in history while employment grew by an annual rate of 3.4% in London and London’s annual output growth remained at 1.6%. So far so good for business, perhaps this is less to do with the Mayor than London’s conducive business environment.
Environmentally, the current Mayor is aiming for a 90% reduction in emissions, offsetting and carbon capture to reach “zero carbon”. The response from the London Assembly(LA) suggests that he has overpromised. Their concern is that by relaxing the 60% target to 52%, it implies an estimated 17 million tonnes of extra carbon could be emitted between 2016 and 2025, and a further 46 million tonnes of extra carbon by 2050. Many initiatives regarding green infrastructure, noise, waste and climate change are welcomed by the LA but only at concept stage, the devil is in the implementation. The LA were disappointed that the previous administration’s 25% tree cover target has been reduced to 22%.
Transport for London has experienced strikes in March and April and the frozen fare promises only affected a small percentage of passengers while most of the other fares have increased.
Khan’s promises to lower crime in the capital and keep Londoners safe is where he has let London down most. Between June 2016 and February 2018, crime is up 6.40% with 1,666,118 total crimes in London and figures rose again during March by 7.57%, compared to February 2018. Violence against the person account for approximately one third of total crime with 507,135 crimes listed on the Met Police Crime Dashboard, with Westminster, Camden and Lambeth being the high spots.
The Stop and Search figures for the past year zig zag between ten and eleven thousand per month and Taser deployments were up 8.65% in first quarter of 2017. Homicide is up +44% in the past 12 months, faith crime has risen +8.25% and frighteningly +79.39% over the last month, Islamophobia is up + 31.52% in past year and alarmingly +162.30% in the past month. Knife crime is up +21.17% with 1108 crimes listed in March 2018, resulting in 63 fatalities in London so far this year. In the year ending 2017, according to the Office of National Statistics, in London and other metropolitan areas there was a disproportional increase of +22% in offences involving knives or other sharp instruments and an 11% increase in firearms offences. The Metropolitan Police have a budget of £3Billion, with a reserve of £240 million and since the beginning of 2018 the Central Government have made available a further £43 million, and yet acid attacks, knife and gun crime is increasing disproportionately in the capital.
Khan is the most senior Labour elected figure in UK, with the largest mandate. In 2017-18 and also in 2018-19 Khan approved a budget of up to £1 million for marketing and PR; in 2017 Khan visited India on his way to Pakistan, making the most of optics at strategically chosen locations, Amritsar, Bollywood and Wagah but accomplishing little in the way of support in UK.
In 2015 he was one of the 35 MPs who placed Corbyn on the ballot paper to lead the Labour Party and he frequently campaigns to remain in the EU. Previously, the Mayor had opposed President Trump’s visit to London and even encouraged protests, but this week Khan told the BBC he was happy to meet the President and to introduce him to London’s diversity to show “it is possible to be a Londoner, a Westerner and a Muslim. They are not mutually incompatible.”
The Queen Mary University of London’s poll released on 1 May found that Khan’s popularity was at an alltime low. Apparently, “more people still thought he did a good job rather than a bad job overall”. When asked whether Khan was doing well or badly as Mayor of London, 52% said he was doing a good job, with 30% of Londoners believing he was doing a bad job, a net score of +22. This was the lowest net score since he took office in 2016. Professor Cowley added: “The Mayor still has the sort of satisfaction ratings that most British politicians would kill for, but there is a clear deterioration in his standing. When Queen Mary University of London first ran one of these surveys, in March 2017, he polled +35 satisfaction, and was positive with almost every demographic—even, narrowly, Conservative voters. He is now clearly negative with Conservative voters (-32) and only marginally positive (+5) with working class Londoners.”
To be a Mayor for all Londoners Khan must deliver the promises and policies that benefit all Londoners, regardless of socio-economic background and Leave or Remain persuasion. All Londoners need the same security, houses and reliable transport that they can afford, sustainable environmental goals and the majority would promote an honest welcome to the “Leader of the Free World”.