Sadiq Khan’s London of luxury beliefs

Brace yourselves for four more years of virtue-signalling while the city burns.

Tom Slater

Tom Slater

Topics Politics UK

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Sadiq Khan ended his London mayoral campaign just as he started it: smearing his opponents as racists. At City Hall yesterday, after his historic third election victory was announced, Khan took the opportunity to thank his supporters, thank his team and display some industrial-grade brassneck: ‘We faced a campaign of non-stop negativity, but I couldn’t be more proud that we answered the fear-mongering with facts, hate with hope, and attempts to divide with efforts to unite.’

Negativity? Hate? Fact-free fear-mongering? The implied villains of the piece, of course, were the Conservatives and their candidate, Susan Hall. (Just before the vote, Labour shadow health secretary Wes Streeting declared that a win for Hall would be a ‘win for racists, white supremacists and Islamophobes the world over’.) But this was all one big displacement activity. After eight years as mayor, smears, negativity and theatrical victimhood is about all Khan has left.

The attempts to paint Susan Hall as the spiritual successor to Nick Griffin were ugly and absurd. On LBC, Khan called the Harrow Tory councillor the ‘most dangerous candidate I have ever faced’. The proof for her supposed fascism boiled down to her supporting Donald Trump, once liking a few spicey right-wing tweets and being a member of some Facebook groups opposing Khan’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) scheme, on which a few hard-right cranks also liked to hang out. It was the most crass exercise in guilt-by-association – not to mention self-victimisation. Khan said that Hall’s mere membership of those Facebook groups ‘could have a direct impact on not just my safety but the safety of my family and staff’.

No doubt, Khan is the target of disgusting threats and invective, from both the anti-Muslim far right and the Islamists who see London’s first muslim mayor as a ‘sell out’. But to equate those scumbags with ordinary Londoners who don’t like being priced off the roads and have had enough of periodic stabbings is grotesque. And this is precisely what he has been doing. Last March, Khan smeared anti-ULEZ protesters at an Ealing town-hall event as, you guessed it, fascists. ‘Some of those outside are part of the far right… Some are Covid deniers, some are vaccine deniers and some are Tories.’ Tories, you say? Someone call Special Branch.

That Khan was going to win was never really in doubt. Yes, on the eve of the results, a few lobby journalists got a bit carried away with some anonymous briefings claiming Hall might cause an upset. But they soon sobered up. After all, Labour is currently hegemonic in London, for a range of demographic and political reasons. The Tories are also in the toilet, to use a technical, psephological term. Meanwhile, the gaffe-prone Hall basically won the Tory candidacy by default, after No10’s pick was #MeTood and several others bowed out. Party bigwigs were visibly embarrassed by her and never really leaned into her campaign.

Still, those claiming Sadiq Khan’s re-election is an enthusiastic endorsement of his record and programme are either deluded or trolling. In the end, Khan beat Hall by 11 percentage points – a comfortable win, but a far cry from the 20-point leads that many of the polls had predicted. Turnout was typically low, at just 40 per cent. ‘[H]is lead was a significant underperformance against Labour’s lead over the Conservatives in terms of Westminster voting intention’, notes The Sunday Times. Luke Tryl, from the More in Common think-tank, says ‘Khan now severely underperforms the Labour Party brand’.

And no wonder. Despite chattering-class claims to the contrary, Londoners are not happy with ULEZ – which hits the owners of older, more polluting cars (ie, working-class and older people) with punishing taxes. According to a poll conducted by the Mile End Institute and Savanta last November, 63 per cent of Londoners either think ULEZ should be scrapped entirely or limited to inner-London (Khan extended it to all of Greater London last year). Only 26 per cent think it’s fine the way it is. Meanwhile, knife crime is on the up and the communities most affected by it are growing sick of Khan’s deflections. He’s been accused of ‘completely losing control’ by the families of knife-crime victims. Julius Cools, whose son Jermaine was stabbed to death with a machete in Croydon in 2021, told The Times last week: ‘I don’t think Sadiq Khan cares about us. The same way he takes money from poor people driving their cars, he should put that effort into ridding London of weapons.’

In his victory speech, Khan gave us the usual flannel about being ‘a mayor for all Londoners’, including those who didn’t vote for him. But we all know that’s bollocks. He clearly doesn’t mean hard-up van drivers, the grieving families of knife-crime victims or those with views that just happen to conflict with his own. We all know which London he really speaks for: the upper-middle-class woke clerisy that now enjoys a complete stranglehold over the politics and culture of our city. In a YouGov poll before the election, Khan had a staggering 33-point lead over Hall among well-to-do ‘ABC1’ voters, but the two were practically neck-and-neck among working-class ‘C2DE’ voters. Millions of Londoners are furious with Khan, even if they remain unconvinced by the alternatives. (It’s also worth remembering that more Londoners voted for Brexit than have ever voted for our Remoaner mayor.)

Khan’s London, then, is a London of luxury beliefs. In which Dalstonite graphic designers cheer regressive green taxes, safe in the knowledge they won’t ever have to pay them. In which they can dismiss concerns about knife crime, because it doesn’t really affect them. In which they can vote for a mayor who offers them nothing more than moral grandstanding – diversity-themed fireworks displays and the ‘Maaate’ campaign and his own insufferable victimhood complex – because they are privileged enough to be insulated from many of the bread-and-butter issues. London is crying out for an alternative to this thin gruel of phoney virtue.

Tom Slater is editor of spiked. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Slater_

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Politics UK


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