The following article by Matthew Willgress, supporting Sadiq Khan for Mayor of London, was previously published by Labour Briefing. Labour’s campaign is correctly focussed on housing and public transport, two of Londoners’ most pressing concerns about living standards. The Tories meanwhile are trying to whip up prejudice against Khan’s race and Muslim faith, waging a smear campaign accusing him of extremism and links to terrorism. Reject Tory austerity and racism – Vote Labour!
Despite the ongoing and relentlessly negative noise – mainly not around key political or economic issues – from our biased media, Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party has so far proven a success. In particular, the Oldham by-election was a great victory, seeing off a perceived challenge from UKIP.
Whoever became Labour’s leader last year would have a mountain to climb. The Conservatives had a 6% lead over Labour at the General Election. In Scotland, Labour’s vote collapsed totally to 24.3%, down 17.7% on 2010.
This May, we face another electoral test including elections for local government in parts of England, the London Assembly, the Scottish Parliament, the Senedd and the London mayoral elections. With Labour facing an incredibly difficult situation in Scotland, the London mayoral election has become key.
We can be sure that the results will be misrepresented. Indeed, we have already seen articles arguing that if Labour does well this apparently will be despite Jeremy. Equally there is no doubt that where Labour suffers, the blame will be put on Jeremy.
While Sadiq Khan was not the organised Labour left’s first choice in the process to select Labour’s candidate, he was elected on the wave of ‘Corbynmania’ and the left’s second preference votes, receiving a strong mandate from Labour members, registered supporters and trade union supporters, beating the Blairite candidate in each section.
Whatever differences people may have with aspects of Sadiq’s campaign, on the key policy issues for the Mayor – most notably on the cost of living crisis, housing and transport – his policies would benefit the overwhelming majority of Londoners, when compared with the ‘do nothing’ record of the current Mayor and the clear support for the Tories’ failing austerity agenda being given by Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith, who even voted for the Housing Bill.
There is no guarantee Labour can win the mayoral election. But we do need to make a strong showing, in order to consolidate the gains we have made in recent months with Jeremy’s leadership and the new way of doing politics. For the left, the Party and the broader labour movement, now is the time to unite behind the Labour campaign, andstart to popularise policies that present real solutions to the cost of living crisis and a positive alternative to the Tories’ ideologically driven austerity.
Let’s get Sadiq elected as London Mayor and start building the momentum for a Labour victory at the next General Election.
This article was previously published here by Labour Briefing