Sadiq Khan’s team and policies

Sadiq won the contest to be Labour’s candidate for London Mayor by a clear margin today. He is a very smart, thoroughly decent guy who will make a good Mayor, if he can beat the Tory’s likely candidate, Zac Goldsmith.   Here are three quick thoughts on today’s result.

First, Sadiq shows that putting in the groundwork really matters.  Sometimes winning campaigns seem to come from out of nowhere, like Barack Obama and, perhaps tomorrow, Jeremy Corbyn, but Sadiq Khan’s campaign has been built over many years.  During a successful career as a human rights lawyer, Labour MP, Minister and, in recent years, a prominent Shadow Cabinet Member, he has built up a strong network and a great track record.   By taking on key roles, such as running Labour’s London wide campaign in the 2014 Borough Elections, Sadiq established his claim and became a credible challenger to Tessa Jowell.

Second, it’s time to get to know Team Sadiq.  Connect will be advising our clients not to wait until the new Mayor is in post, but to start building relationships now.  Team Sadiq will have a key role in shaping up his policies for London and, if he wins, will be hoping for a role in City Government.   If Sadiq follows Boris’s approach of appointing London Council Leaders to Deputy Mayor roles, the Leader’s who have backed him at this stage may be tapped up.   They include Stephen Alambritis, Leader of Merton Council, Islington’s Richard Watts, Brent’s Muhammed Butt, and Steve Curran, Leader of Hounslow Council.   Key advisers to Sadiq include his Campaign Manager, Marcus Roberts and former Miliband aide Polly Billington.  Heidi Alexander MP acted as the Campaign Chair and will likely play a continuing role.

Third, the policies should interest you.   The Labour selection contest has been policy rich and all the candidates have offered more than just a diagnosis of the challenges for London, they have each put forward new policy ideas.  Connect work with many organisations in the housing field and we will be advising them on Sadiq’s housing policies.  There is a particular focus on affordability and supply of housing, which are inter-related of course, including a 50% requirement for affordable housing on new developments, a new ‘buy-to-leave’ crackdown and the promotion of home zones.   On transport, Sadiq’s policy of TFL taking on responsibility for more commuter lines, as they did with Anglia, could prove a flashpoint with central government over future franchises.  Boris Johnson’s opposition to Heathrow expansion has given the Prime Minister a headache, and that will not go away if Sadiq takes over as he too is firmly against the Heathrow third runway.   One other policy that particularly caught my eye is the plan to pedestrianize Oxford Street.  The lobbying on either side of that debate will be intense and I expect to see the battle run and run in the Evening Standard.

Sadiq’s next challenge is to get the Labour Party to unite behind him across London. Then he has to take the fight to the Conservatives in the suburbs where Mayoral elections are won and lost.  Boris’s famous ‘doughnut strategy’ paid off twice for him, where outer London support for the Conservatives outweighed Labour’s strength in inner London.  I wouldn’t even be surprised to see Sadiq borrowing Tessa Jowell’s ‘One London’ positioning as he tries to reach out to all parts of the capital.  Connect will continue providing expert advice and support to our clients on how to engage with London government.  Please do let me know if you would like to find out more about our services.

Andy Sawford by:
Andy Sawford