Sadiq Khan will today effectively launch his campaign to win a third term as Mayor of London next year with a speech in which he will lambast the Conservatives’ record in the capital, accuse them of changing the rules of an election they know they cannot otherwise hope to win, and hold out the prospect of huge progress in a Labour City Hall if and when Keir Starmer becomes Prime Minster.
Speaking at the conference of Labour’s London region – which Starmer will also address – the Mayor intends to be particularly critical of the Tories’ approach to environmental issues, making a counter-attack to their recent assaults on his air quality and climate change policies and characterising the Conservatives nationally as a polluting force – “the Tories are polluting our politics, they’re polluting our rivers and they’re polluting our reputation across the world,” he will say.
Highlighting that next May’s mayoral vote will be the first since the government abolished the traditional supplementary vote system – which has given Londoners the opportunity to register both a first and a second preference for Mayor – and replace it with first-past-the-post (FPTP) and also the first in the capital to require electors to present a form of photographic identification before they are allowed to vote at a polling station, Khan will say “the Tories have made it clear that if you’re from a minority ethnic community or if you’re LGBTQ+, homeless or elderly they’re happy to marginalise you”.
He will make the same accusation in relation to younger voters, pointing out that although Oyster 60+ or Freedom travel passes for older people will be acceptable forms of Voter ID, university student cards and 18+ Oyster cards will not.
The Conservative government’s introduction of Voter ID and FPTP have been denounced as ploys to reduce electoral support for Labour on the grounds that those most likely to lack the necessary documents are also more likely to be Labour-leaning, and because removing the second preference entitlement from the mayoral ballot will have the effect of splitting the liberal-left vote to Tory advantage.
Khan’s 10.4 percentage point margin of victory over his Tory rival in May 2021 – by 1,206,034 votes to 977,601 – included 192,313 second preference votes compared to his main opponent’s 84,550.
The Mayor’s speech today follows one earlier this month in which he laid out what he saw as the detrimental effects of the UK leaving the European Union and called for “greater alignment with our European neighbours” and suggested “a fundamental rethink of the existing Brexit deal” should be a option.
The burnishing of his Remain credentials and today’s emphasis on his environmental policies suggest Khan is attempting to draw sharp distinctions between himself and the Tories and underline to Londoners attracted to the Liberal Democrats and Greens, both of whom are pro-European and advocates of environmental action, to back him.
The Conservatives have not yet selected a mayoral candidate for 2024. London Assembly member Andrew Boff has made known his intention to seek the nomination and there has been speculation that minister for London Paul Scully, the MP for Sutton & Cheam, might make a bid.
London Assembly member Nick Rogers has urged his party to run a “positive, forward-looking” campaign and drawn attention to signs that voters are no longer embracing values aligned with Tory ones as they get older.
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