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Support Khan and fight for more!

Support Khan and fight for more!

HE’S NOT THE LABOUR MAYORAL CANDIDATE I wanted, but there’s a lot to be said for Sadiq Khan. There is no doubt we should be doing everything to ensure he is London’s next Mayor. Khan has more going for him than merely not being Zac Goldsmith, as his recently published manifesto demonstrates. The document also reveals Khan’s limitations.

There are some pledges that are unambiguously welcome, such as a freeze inTFL fares, a commitment to equalities policies and schemes to cut energy bills. Equally there are signs that Khan is struggling to escape the New Labour mould. The first area addressed in the manifesto is ‘Business, Prosperity, and Opportunity’. Here we learn that Khan will “involve businesses in key issues of policy making and planning”, as though this voice had hitherto been mute. Law and order concerns get generous coverage under the auspices of ‘A Safer Secure London’. In spite of his genuine commitment to equalities, Khan doesn’t grasp that there are plenty of people in London for whom an increase in “visible local” police presence will herald neither safety nor security.

It is housing, however, which will be the number one priority for most Londoners. Housing in the capital is at crisis point. Khan clearly understands this, and has some good ideas about how to tackle it.

A naming and shaming of rogue landlords is long overdue, and a London-wide not-for-profit lettings agency could make a world of difference to many who rent in the city. Above all, the promise not to allow estate regeneration without resident support, and to prevent demolition if this would involve loss of social housing, is timely. The recent experience of West Hendon shows why. Yet social housing gets little mention elsewhere. Again an inability to offer non-market driven solutions ties the manifesto’s hands. There is a lot about house building, and about the need for genuinely affordable accommodation, without a realisation that the best way to secure this is through a renewed commitment to council housing.

There is plenty here to support. It’s clear though that if and when Khan is elected, he will need friendly critics on Labour’s left encouraging him to go beyond the boundaries of his election platform.

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