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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Sadiq Khan – can he solve the issues that matter to London?

“On the ballot paper, it’s clean air with me, or return to toxic air with the Tories.”  – Sadiq Khan

 

In the run up to a hotly contested election, Asian Standard were invited to meet Sadiq Khan at an exclusive event to talk about his plan for London and why he should be re-elected as the Mayor of London. Here’s what he had to say:

 

Many of our readership live together as multigenerational, extended families, meaning that the spiralling rents and housing shortages in London are hitting them hardest. What can you offer to help them?

One of the strengths of the Asian community is the fact that family really matters to us – so you often get intergenerational households. That is a huge strength in many ways – for example grandkids get to see their grandparents.

But it poses its challenges as well, in relation to lack of space, people not flourishing and thriving as much as they would.

The first thing that we have to do is build far more affordable homes, enabling people to move out of the family home, particularly young Londoners.

Since I have been Mayor, despite the government we have record numbers of council homes, record numbers of affordable homes. And that’s why this year is potentially a game changer – a Labour mayor and a Labour government working together to finally address the housing crises.

 

You have stated that the current election is a two-horse race – why should our readers vote for you over Susan Hall?

I encourage your readers to do their own research. In the last twenty- four years the Conservatives have either come first or second. This Thursday 2 May they may come first or second as well.

A vote for me is a vote for free school meals being permanent. For fares to be frozen or low, for more council homes, more investment in young people and the police, for somebody to unite instead of dividing us. All that is at risk if the Tories win.

The Tory candidate has also said comments that I find really offensive she supports Donald Trump; she has liked Tweets praising Enoch Powell. She is somebody who will divide our communities, not bring them together.

I say in a respectful way to those who normally vote Green, Lib Dem or The Reform Party, they cannot win.

The government has changed the vote system so you cannot get second preference. They have also changed the system, so you need photo ID. So please bring along your photo or passport on Thursday and vote Labour.

Despite your two terms as Mayor, violent crime is still on the rise in London. If elected for a third term, what are your plans to tackle that?

Crime is still too high across the country, and London is not excluded – and I have seen that both as a member of Parliament and the Mayor.

I have seen too many victims of crime, and it is heartbreaking. In the last eight years despite continued austerity despite population rising, from City Hall we have doubled the numbers of police we are funding youth clubs, afterschool clubs and this has led to homicides going down, burglaries going down. It’s still too high though.

That’s why it’s really important that we have a government that supports cities like London, more police, more youth clubs more after school clubs.

The causes of crime are complex – deprivation, poverty, alienation, lack of opportunity. I’m not excusing it, I’m explaining it. Apart from the complex causes of crime, and also tough on crime by supporting the police.”

 

The ULEZ is a very controversial policy, practically every other candidate plans to abolish it. What’s your response to this?

None of us would allow our parents or our children to drink dirty water – so why would you allow them to drink dirty air?

The air in London leads to thousands of premature deaths, lungs stunted for ever, and to a range of health problems such as cancer, asthma heart disease.

The great news is that our Ultra Low Emission Zone has led to a massive reduction of poison and toxicity in the air. Roadside reductions of around 50%.

It’s really important that we make progress. I remember years ago as a member of Parliament there was a vote to ban smoking in public places. You would never dream of bringing that back.

It was controversial then, but it is now seen as the norm. I’m hoping that clean air is a step forward as well.

You don’t see it as a potential vote loser at all?

We will have to see on 2 May. On the ballot paper, it’s clean air with me, or return to toxic air with the Tories.

 

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