So we’re electing a London Mayor – who knew?

Friday, 7th May 2021

Sadiq Khan

Labour’s Sadiq Khan

YOU might not have realised it until the past few days, but the London Mayoral elections are on today (Thursday).

This year’s race for City Hall feels like the election that never was.

There has been a dearth of leaflets, high street campaign stalls and the general party-political mud-slinging that normally precedes an election.

Of course, Covid has curtailed some of the familiar means of campaigning but the contest still could have been a more genuine discussion about London’s future.

It is almost a certainty that Labour’s Sadiq Khan will comfortably win another term as mayor.

So supremely confident was he, his campaign team chose not to invite the New Journal along to any of his pre-publicity events. We have seen before how dangerous it can be when a politician can pick and choose his engagements.

Despite the turmoil in the Labour Party, and frenzy over the Hartlepool by-election polling, Mr Khan this week was quoted at an extraordinary 1/200 with some bookmakers to win.

With such an astronomical lead, aided by an anaemic and confused effort by the Conservatives, you might think he would wield such power in order to outline a transformative programme for the city.

He appears, however, to be one of those politicians who exists under the radar and does not like to rock the boat.

He is often said to be hated by car drivers for traffic-stopping road layout changes. But the same can be said of all of his predecessors in the role, overseeing Transport for London.

What do we know of his guiding philosophy or even what he is in politics for?

You could ask the question of so many modern aim-to-please-all politicians who have mastered that knack of making both sides of an argument their own.

His mayorship, without any really takeaway achievements, has been characterised by soundbites. Londoners this, Londoners that. London is Open. London is Equal. Standing up for London. Sitting down for London. Fairness for all.

His campaign slogan is “Vote for London”. Either Mr Khan thinks he is London, or he is being intentionally vague.

Whatever the count today, the truth is the public do not want politicians to be politicians for the sake of being politicians. That’s a charge which has been levelled at Boris Johnson too.

Ultimately, they want their elected representatives to have a human quality, and to make meaningful contributions to the political debate.

The Labour Party should be coming up with bold ideas about how to address the recovery needed ahead. Not idly looking on.

Certainly, we would like to see more dynamism from Mr Khan in his next term, not complacency.

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