We’re all a little tentative about Sadiq. Mostly because he’s unknown, untested and untried. We’ve no idea what his reign might bring and we quite like our capital. Then there are those who are wary simply because he’s part Pakistani and a Muslim.
To those I can only say that time will prove your fears unfounded. You’ll earn more ears blaming his policies than parentage. Anyway, Boris Johnson was actually born in America and they’re clearly not of sound mind. I’d also point out, who better to understand and tackle Muslim radicalisation than someone in their own faith? He could be the best weapon against extremist Islam. So let’s give Sadiq a chance and see what’s up his (overly-ambitious?) sleeve.
Khan’s from a Tooting working class family, who are indeed British Pakistani. He originally worked as a human rights solicitor, which in my books makes him brilliant. He then turned to politics, becoming Tooting Labour MP. Khan was awarded Newcomer of the Year for his tough stance and clarity on issues around Islamic terrorism. He’s been minister for two government departments: transport, and one responsible for building and housing amongst other things. They’re useful credentials for MoL to have.
If his job experience hasn’t won you over, perhaps his pro-Remain stance, his refusal of MP salary raises and his ambassadorship of Mosaic Network (a charity mentoring schools, prisons and disadvantaged communities) will. On paper, the man is eminently approvable.
Khan’s is about restoring opportunity to London. Rising prices and plummeting accommodation damage opportunities for Londoners, and Sadiq’s keen to tackle this. He’s been in office 8 months, mostly familiarising himself with the job. That doesn’t exempt him, however. He’s a man that has much to deliver and London expects results.
We hope being housing minister has prepped him for his biggest challenge. He promised to create 50% genuinely affordable homes, throwing a few punches at his predecessor too. Boris failed to deliver a similar promise in spectacular fashion, deeming £450000 houses ‘affordable’. Khan also hopes to keep council tax low, get better deals for renters and use mayoral-owned land for building.
His biggest selling point is prioritising Londoners for London housing. Since becoming mayor, he has decried foreign investors for taking up housing. He has urged them instead to invest in affordable home construction through his newly created agency Homes for Londoners. This issue will be a long term fix, so it’s a waiting game, but he’s already retracted a statement supporting rent freezes — it doesn’t bode well.
His election trail was littered with tales of his business experience. Words like skills, infrastructure, growth and partnerships echoed without much information to back it all up.
We now know he’s aiming to start skills training for Londoners. It’s encouraging to hear: while we want the best in business brought into London, we also want to train Londoners to be the best themselves. Alongside, Khan is setting up a board of the best business advisors (not his political allies — another Boris dig). He’s determined to create more tech skills apprenticeships, focusing on getting more girls into the tech world.
He’s hopes to make London a living wage city, but he’s going to need to fix every other issue before he manages that one.
This is relatively new ground. While Ken and Boris introduced Congestion Charges, electric buses and bike lanes, neither were dedicated to green causes. Khan wants to be the greenest yet (there have only been two, Sadiq…), though backing a new London Airport and Gatwick expansion aren’t a good start.
Pollution and air quality is his urgent priority: London’s air is illegally unsafe. He spoke about it when Tooting MP, telling the government to get with the times. So far, he has issued a £10 surcharge for the most polluting vehicles and intends to introduce the central London Ultra-Low Emission Zone a year early in 2019, before extending it in 2020. The latter is contentious — doing so could make the policy less effective and far more expensive.
Khan asked Londoners via TfL about pollution and the measures they’d willingly take. The poll closed December 2016, so we should hear his conclusions imminently. Sadiq also wants to protect the green belt (he has already banned a stadium and two apartment blocks planned on the green belt) and he hopes to finally pedestrianise Oxford Street. Seeing is believing…
Sadiq’s tackling this large list for safety: extremism, knife crime, gangs, dangerous junctions, while creating safer lorries, segregated cycle routes and boosting neighbourhood policing. So far, he’s launched the ‘No Nights Sleeping Rough’ taskforce to tackle the rise in homelessness.
Interestingly, as a solicitor Khan tackled several legal cases against the Met: the police force will be under strict scrutiny.
I imagine the freeze he’s placed on TfL fares for the next four years are what got him the win. It’s a huge deal, but is it achievable? Many have huge doubts. He’s also in talks about extending the Bakerloo and Overground lines, as well as Crossrail 2. Once these are under the belt and on the way, he’s got plans for Crossrail 3 and an orbital line. Finally, he’s introduced the hopper bus fare (hoorah!), which is a long bloody time coming.
Sadiq’s human rights background comes into its own here, having already tackled numerous equality cases. Khan’s determined to lessen the gender pay gap and break the glass ceiling for women, and wants to promote tolerance and make London open for all. For working parents, he’ll make childcare actually affordable.
He earned support by saying Trump isn’t welcome in London until the Muslim ban is lifted. He also offered to educate Donald — one insurmountable job at a time, Sadiq.
All in all, I’m hopeful. Despite their innumerable idiotic statements or backstabbing ways, we’ve been incredibly lucky in our London Mayors. I for one hope that Khan will continue that trend.