Love Corbyn? Then campaign for Khan
David Osland tells us why all Corbynistas must work for Sadiq Khan
TO BE FAIR, ‘JEZZA CAN GET STUFFED’ is not actually the official slogan of Sadiq Khan’s campaign to become Mayor of London next May. But short of emblazoning that motto on his billboard posters, the Labour candidate sometimes seems to be doing all in his gift to get that message across.
His now legendary LBC interview a few weeks back probably deserves an entry in the Guinness Book of Records for the most times a politician has ever disavowed the head of his own party in a single two-minute radio slot.
Khan has often turned to hostile journalists to slam Corbyn for everything from egging on anti-semitism to insufficient deference for Her Maj, and been at pains to stress his lack of contact with the leader’s office.
Even the fact that he lent his vote to ensure Corbyn got on the leadership ballot paper is sometimes adduced as evidence of underlying duplicity, the suggestion being that the move was motivated largely by a desire to rally the left behind his subsequently successful attempt to pickup the mayoral nomination.
To top it all, Khan is running on an overt pledge to be “the most pro-business mayor London has ever had”, going out of his way to tell a right wing magazine that he welcomes the presence of 140 billionaires and 400,000 millionaires in Britain’s capital.
Just to complicate things still further, rival mayoral contender George Galloway – who is probably still sufficiently in touch with reality to realise that he is a complete no-hoper – is keen to win over any stragglers. “Sadiq supports Corbyn like the rope supports the hanging man,” the Respect hopeful reportedly told a meeting in Walthamstow, nicking a gag from one of the last stand-up comedy gigs ever played by eminent 20th century Russian funster Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. “If I was Jeremy, I’d want me to win.”
So what conclusion should Briefing readers draw from all of the above? Simple. Vote for Khan. And if you are a Corbynite Labour Party or Momentum member, canvass for Khan. While Sadiq Khan might be to the right of his more famous namesake Genghis, at least he’s still to the left of Tessa Jowell. He was, for instance, savvy enough to realise the need for a tentative retreat from New Labourism after 2010, aligning himself strongly behind Ed Miliband.
He is also the only person with any prospect of beating Zac Goldsmith, his Conservative opponent. A win for Goldsmith would only strengthen David Cameron’s austerity-driven Tory administration, something that should be countered at all costs.
More positively, Khan’s policies on issues including the London housing crisis and public transport are, if unexciting, broadly supportable examples of workaday social democracy.
Finally, his victory would represent a victory against anti-Muslim prejudice and Cameron’s ‘bunch of immigrants’ dog-whistling.
From a more partisan point of view, the idea that Jeremy would prefer a Galloway triumph is just the latest flight of fancy to emanate from the man in the spandex kitty suit. The reality is that he needs a big swing to Labour in London on May 5, and nothing else will do.
With numerous elections due that day, chances are that Labour’s performance will be disappointing in many of them. Received wisdom suggests we might kiss goodbye to all constituency members in the Scottish Parliament, and lose ground in the Welsh Assembly and local government contests. We shall see.
If things do go pear-shaped, expect no reasoned debate as to the causes. The very idea that the loss of Scotland might have had anything to do with the errors of the New Labour and Miliband periods will be mercilessly poo-pooed.
Those MPs who boast of their ‘knife Corbyn in the front’ proclivities will be wielding daggers nanoseconds after the polls close, and a leadership challenge from the right will become a real prospect.
If the Bitterites go postal, a positive outcome in London will strengthen the left’s defences. And a convincing win for Khan could even prevent a Blairite kamikaze attack in the first place.
In short, why are you even wasting time reading this when you could be out working to secure a Khan win? Get out there and start leafleting.