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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Susan Hall argues that Sadiq Khan “grossly underperformed” in the recent London mayoral election

Ms Hall, who lost to the Labour mayor by a record 275,000 votes, has also insisted that the “unashamedly conservative values” she espoused in her campaign “perform well at the ballot box”.

Writing in the Spectator on Sunday, Ms Hall said Mr Khan should have defeated her by a much bigger margin, due to the size of Labour’s lead over the Conservatives when Londoners are polled on national politics.

The Tory assembly member – who said in the run-up to the mayoral election that she “never comments on polls” about her own campaign – wrote in the magazine: “Nationally, Labour is polling 30 points ahead of the Conservatives.

“In London, Sadiq Khan won thanks to his Green and Lib Dem friends lending him their votes. By taking home 33 per cent of the vote in London, I outperformed the party, and by taking 44 per cent, even with the votes from the Greens and Lib Dems, he grossly underperformed.”

She urged Conservative members to spread the message she campaigned on, which was focused on “strong law and order” and fighting “the war on the motorists”.

“These values don’t just perform well at the ballot box,” she wrote. “They are what families across the country feel, believe, and know to be true, and we should never stop fighting for them.”

Mr Khan’s team were quick to argue following his victory that he had out-performed expectations, pointing out that as well as securing an unprecedented third term, it was also the first time in the mayoralty’s history that an incumbent has increased their margin of victory and seen a swing towards them.

In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Ms Hall also said that Labour’s shadow health secretary, Wes Streeting, had made her feel unsafe on public transport, following his claim on social media that a victory for her would be a “win for racists, white supremacists and Islamophobes”.

She added that Tory MP Paul Scully’s remarks that her campaign was too negative were “sour grapes, and it’s such a shame”. Sutton and Cheam MP Mr Scully had hoped to be the Conservative mayoral candidate, but failed to make the shortlist.

Other Tories have meanwhile said there is “no point kidding ourselves about the severity of the challenge” facing them in London.

Writing for the ConservativeHome website on Monday, Bexley councillor Cameron Smith said the party is “now at our lowest-ever ebb across much of the capital”.

He wrote: “Yes, we can point to some recent successes: Jason Perry’s mayoral victory in Croydon two years ago, Harrow Conservatives retaking the council, and Steve Tuckwell’s by-election win.

“But Susan Hall’s mayoral defeat is the latest in an overwhelmingly clear trend in London; we’re losing ground consistently and mostly permanently.”

Mr Smith, who is also head of communications for the centre-right think tank, Onward, argued that the party should form “a reconstituted London Conservative Party” which would be “distinct but not totally independent, like the Scottish and Welsh parties, with its own identity and party machinery”.

He added that the Tories should return to the “boosterism” about London which their only successful mayoral candidate – Boris Johnson – demonstrated while in office.

“He banged on about buses, City Hall, and London’s prowess in fields from sport to financial services; it says it all that his London legacy is a bike,” wrote Mr Smith. “Until we start doing this again, we’ll never regain the right to be heard in London.”

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