Sadiq Khan has launched his manifesto for a second term as London Mayor with vows to fight for the capital against “continuing austerity and an increasingly anti-London Tory government” and shape a recovery from the pandemic in “the spirit of 1945” by protecting jobs, supporting new businesses and providing a “green new deal” for the city encompassing employment, improved open spaces and cleaner air.
In the 100-page document the Labour incumbent, who has been enjoying huge opinion poll leads over his rivals for more than a year, says the 6 May election “should be a referendum against the failed way this country is run,” and that a vote for him and Labour would send “a strong message to the Tory government that we’re sick of our city being run, and run poorly, from Whitehall.”
Khan writes: “I believe we desperately need a national mission to raise standards of living in every part of the UK. But you can’t achieve this by dragging down the successful parts of the country, or by attacking the many Londoners out of work or living in poverty.”
He also pledges to establish a London Drugs Commission of independent experts to explore new evidence about drug-related harm and crime. The move reflects a continuing softening of Khan’s previously hard-line response to suggestions that drug laws could be liberalised.
By contrast, advocates of bold planning reforms to enable more housing to be built will be disappointed by his intention to “strengthen the Green Belt’s defence against development”. Unlike in 2016, when addressing housing shortages was front and centre of Khan’s campaign, the more thematically-structured 2021 manifesto has no dedicated section on the issue, though a section on nurturing “a fairer, healthier and more equal London” he says he will “pilot a new City Hall developer to start directly-building the low cost homes Londoners need”.
On greener transport, Khan says he will ask Transport for London (TfL) to “review their current plans for a zero-emission bus fleet by 2037” and ask the government for funds to make that possible by 2030 and underlines that an extended Ultra Low Emission will come into effect from October. A section about young Londoners underlines Khan’s desire to close the “digital divide” made more visible during the pandemic.
As negotiations with the government about the long-term funding of TfL continue, Khan re-commits to “keeping fares as low as possible” and “working to put TfL on a “sound, sustainable financial footing after the pandemic.”
Last night, Khan again accused Boris Johnson of lying about the reasons for Transport for London’s perilous financial circumstances after the Prime Minister used a nationally-televised press briefing about Covid-19 to renew his false claim that the Labour Mayor’s management of the transport body is primarily to blame for its need for government support.
TfL, which had depended on public transport fares for over 70 per cent of its income, faced huge collapses in fare revenue when ridership dropped by as much as 95 per cent on the London Underground and 85 per cent on buses during the first lockdown last year.
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