London Mayor - A victory for positive politics
So the results are in, the votes have been counted, and Sadiq Khan is the new Mayor of London. I wrote a blog back in October about how I felt this Mayoral election would be decided by policies, rather than the personalities involved. Looking back on the race for election, I feel like I was half-right.
I must confess I didn’t vote for either candidate, but Sadiq Khan deserved to defeat Zac Goldsmith. His campaign was on the whole positive, it was energetic, and he successfully connected with a higher number of London’s voters. In contrast, the Conservative campaign became increasingly dark, focusing on Khan’s personal connections, crudely dividing the electorate and stumbling into a series of embarrassing gaffes. I think the reason for his shift in approach was that he’d already lost the policy battle, so he started slinging mud. The result was Khan came across as credible, while Goldsmith seemed anything but. It will be interesting to see what happens to Goldsmith’s political career after the events of the final few weeks. I thought he looked like a man who couldn’t wait for it all to be over.
The result means a new party moving into City Hall, and inevitably there will be some fairly big changes in personnel and policy over the next few months. It is highly likely that Housing policy will be at the top of the agenda for the new team. It will be a key part of his role to promote truly affordable housing, including social rent, and to defend those on low to middle incomes that live and work in London. One criticism I’ve seen of Sadiq Khan is that he tries to be everything to everyone, leading to some inconsistencies and uncertainty over where he stands. He now needs to show his hand and potentially make some uncomfortable choices if he wants his tenure to be one of progress and achievement.
As a man who grew up in London social housing, worked his way up the career ladder and has now reached the position of Mayor, Sadiq Khan can legitimately claim to be a true aspirational Londoner, and one that understands the effect housing policies can have on opportunities available to those with high potential that are not born into wealthy families. Making 50% of all new homes affordable is a tough target, but his background gives me optimism that solutions can be found for the challenges that we face housing people in London in the future.
In case you were curious about how I voted, I chose Sian Berry and the Green Party. I thought they produced the most credible and positive campaign and it was great to see them secure the highest number of second preference votes. I won’t begrudge Sadiq Khan his victory though, he was a deserving winner, and I hope will prove an excellent Mayor.
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