It’s over a week now, but I’m still buzzing that Sadiq Khan is our new mayor of London.
It means it’s a really hopeful time for London. We can look forward to more homes being built and sold or rented at a price people can afford. He’s promised to put a cap on spiraling transport fares. It’s going to be a time for new plans and new ideas. Whether it’s keeping our air cleaner or our streets safer, or helping new businesses start up and tackling the inequality which still scars London, Sadiq has said he’ll be a Mayor who listens and innovates. And it’s an incredibly proud time for London. We’ve elected as our new Mayor a man who was brought up on a Tooting council estate, whose parents emigrated here from Pakistan – his father to work on the buses and his mother to work as a seamstress. He went to University and set up his own legal firm. And he’s the first Muslim to be elected to lead our great City – the first of any city in Europe.
I feel proud that our city could enable someone from Sadiq’s background to rise to be Mayor. I feel relieved that he was elected – with Londoner’s rejecting the Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith’s deplorable attempt to give voters the entirely false impression that Sadiq would be soft on terrorism. The Equality and Human Rights Commission should bring out the declaration which all party leaders signed in the 2001 pledging not to allow racial or religious divisions to be used for party advantage. No party should seek to get their candidate elected by whipping up racial tension. It’s time David Cameron signed it.
I agree with Sadiq that now he’s elected it’s important that he’s “the Mayor for all Londoners”. He will reach out not just to Labour voters but to those who voted Tory, UKIP or Green – or who didn’t vote at all. He will engage with people of all faiths, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jews – as he showed at his inauguration at Southwark Cathedral. You can’t build unity in the city by playing one community off against another.
I shall be supporting our Southwark council leader Peter John as he seeks the backing of the Mayor to build more council and affordable homes. And I shall be knocking on Sadiq’s door to insist that in City Hall and in everything he does he supports women to make more progress towards equality.
I’m delighted to see the back of Boris Johnson as our Mayor. He’s certainly a big celebrity but I can’t forgive his insult to our African communities here in London when he talked about “picannnies” or about their “watermelon smiles”. And he neither knew nor cared about people who work hard but struggle to get on the housing ladder or to make ends meet.
I hope, and expect, that the Government whether it’s the Prime Minister, Chancellor or Transport Minister will work with Sadiq.