London is not your personal fiefdom, Sadiq

Why the Mayor of Woke politicises everything, even the New Year’s Eve fireworks.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Topics Politics UK

Sadiq Khan just can’t help himself. He has to make everything hyper-political. There is no issue or event that London’s pint-sized Mayor of Woke won’t try to turn into a soapbox for political preening. Look at last night’s New Year fireworks display. What ought to have been 15 minutes of bright lights and big bangs ended up being a homily from on high about immigration, gay marriage, Windrush, the glorious NHS. It was like being beaten over the head with a copy of the Guardian. Can we not even ring in the new year without being preached at, Sadiq?

You knew it was going to be awful when those words, ‘The Mayor of London presents…’, were emblazoned across the sky. Narcissistic Sadiq turned the actual sky into his own personal Twitter feed. These were Caesar levels of self-regard. Then came the platitudes. ‘London – A Place For Everyone’, the lights in the sky bellowed at the riff raff, a reminder to us not to be such racist pricks. A place for everyone? Yeah, right – tell that to Jews who’ve dodged the city centre for weeks following its colonisation by Hamas fanboys, or to elderly folk who don’t go out after 7pm because of knife crime and anti-social shits. Not everyone gets ferried about in a bulletproof Range Rover, Mr Khan.

And what did Sadiq so graciously ‘present’ to us plebs? The usual. Voiceovers from the sky, like thundering gods of woke, issued forth every correct opinion. We heard King Charles praise diversity. Sadiq, smitten with the sound of his own voice, boomed about London being open to all. (Unless you drive a ‘dirty’ vehicle, in which case it will cost you 12 quid a day to get into ‘open’ London.) Others celebrated same-sex marriage. There was an homage to the NHS. Of course there was. The NHS is the religion of the post-God bourgeoisie. No pseudo-left public spectacle is complete these days without some earnest prostration before the sun god of public health.

The voiceovers were creepy as hell. They reminded me of Christof from The Truman Show, the god-like executive producer who has the power to address the town he invented from his studio hidden in a fake moon. It was a carnival of high-status opinion, a raining down of virtue on the little people. For all its egalitarian pretensions, this super-moralised firework display was an exercise in naked elitism. The implication was that us rough Londoners are such easy prey for right-wing demagoguery, so at risk from moral corruption, that even New Year’s Eve must be turned into an opportunity for ‘raising our awareness’. That is, for saving us from our problematic selves.

It wasn’t even the issues per se that grated. The NHS? Yeah, fine, healthcare free at the point of use is a good idea. Windrush? The arrival of that ship was indeed a turning point for the nation. Same-sex marriage? Meh. A bit bourgeois for my tastes, but knock yourselves out. No, it was the fact that there were issues in the first place. For me it was the dawning realisation that even fireworks must now come with a sideshow of moral hectoring. It is the omnipresence of right-think that should horrify us. Education, football, museums, ads, movies, even New Year’s Eve – there’s no escape from the elites’ high-status tyranny. At least Truman managed to get out of Seahaven. Where are we meant to go?

There’s some serious doublethink in Sadiq’s ‘open to all’ propaganda. Political slogans like that one are in fact designed to morally distinguish the virtuous members of the in-group elite from the problematic masses and our allegedly ‘closed’ thinking. In the very act of saying ‘open to all’, Sadiq is indicating that London is not the right place for you if you are critical of mass immigration, or sceptical of the ideology of multiculturalism, or in favour of Brexit. Indeed, this is the bloke who called for a second EU referendum – void the votes of the thick throng! – and who denounces critics of his ULEZ scheme as ‘far right’. In the velvet glove of his sky-god ‘openness’ lurks the iron fist of intolerance for anyone who deviates from the Sadiq Way. London is open to all except Brexiteers, motorists, the unwoke, TERFs… the list is endless.

In part, Sadiq’s showy moral stunts are about papering over the cracks London has suffered under his mayoralty. They are circus-like distractions from knife crime, the fraying of social bonds, the failure to build the new homes London needs. The moralisation of last night’s fireworks was also a blatant and gauche act of pro-Sadiq spin ahead of the mayoral elections in May. But there’s more to it, too. The ubiquitousness of woke messaging today also speaks to the tyrannical instincts of the new activist class, who have so much misplaced belief in themselves, and so little in us, that they really cannot resist the urge to turn everything into a lecture to the little people.

In essence, Sadiq is treating London as his own personal fiefdom. A one-man principality in which every event and institution must be rudely stamped with the ideology of our ruler, lest the rest of us forget who’s in charge. It is the new establishment’s moral arrogance and suspicion of the masses that compels it to turn even a fireworks display into an occasion for re-education. If those ghastly voiceovers had been more honest, they’d have said: ‘Behold your betters! Follow their moral example!’ London has just had a taste of the post-democratic thinking that underpins woke. Thanks, Sadiq – you’ve reminded us what we should be fighting against in 2024.

Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political writer and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. His new book – A Heretic’s Manifesto: Essays on the Unsayable – is available to order on Amazon UK and Amazon US now. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Picture by: YouTube.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Politics UK


Want to join the conversation?

Only spiked supporters and patrons, who donate regularly to us, can comment on our articles.

Join today