Sadiq Khan wants to be London’s first three-term Mayor.
Khan was first elected as London’s Mayor in 2016, succeeding Boris Johnson. Johnson, like Ken Livingstone before him, the capital’s first Mayor, had served two four-year terms.
Now Khan, who was re-elected to the office in May last year after a 12-month delay in the elections caused by the covid pandemic, has admitted that he wants to stand again in 2024.
Speaking to James O’Brien on LBC, Khan insisted that he’s got the “best job in politics” and is “looking forward” to a third term.
Khan’s time in office has been dominated by three inter-linked issues: the impact on the city of covid; the resulting collapse of Transport for London’s fare-dependent finances; and the long and costly delays to Crossrail.
With Crossrail finally due to open before the end of June, three-and-a-half years late, Khan must be hoping that the financial drain of one of Europe’s biggest engineering projects will at last be removed, and the newly operational Elizabeth Line will begin to contribute to TfL’s coffers.
The line was originally scheduled to open in December 2018, with the budget set at £14.8billion. The cost has increased by almost one-third.
Whether he is ever able to broker a deal with the Tory government to get them to provide a covid subsidy for the capital’s bus, Tube and tram networks in the same manner that they have thrown millions of public money at the private operators of the country’s railways, including Southern, remains to be seen – and probably unlikely, given the Conservatives’ obstinate antipathy towards the capital.
Before he can stand for election again, Khan must secure the approval of the Labour Party’s London Region through a “trigger” process, which could take place within months. Having seen off Tory challengers Zac Goldsmith and blundering party-goer Shaun Bailey in 2016 and 2021, the former MP for Tooting would be a strong candidate to win a third term as Mayor.
The stability having a Mayor in office who is planning issues through to 2028 should be helpful for Londoners and the capital’s businesses. It might also open up the possibility, however remote it may seem, of Khan having the opportunity of working with a Labour government. He will have seen this week’s YouGov London polling with interest.
Having the prospect of dealing with a government that is not actively seeking to undermine him and work against London and Londoners will surely be attractive.
But at the heart of any Khan third term will be the huge dilemma created around his position on the controversial Silvertown Tunnel, which environmentalists say will encourage car use and damage air quality in south-east London, and the Mayor’s new-found evangelism for cleaner air in the city.
Or what he described as “bold plans to secure a green, clean and healthy future for London”.
Tories at City Hall, such as Croydon and Sutton Assembly Member Neil “Father Jack” Garratt, and their mates in what passes for Fleet Street, have willfully misrepresented the Mayor’s position by suggesting that he wants to extend the ULEZ – ultra-low emissions zone – all the way to the M25 and make car drivers pay for driving anywhere in outer London, just as they have done for nearly 20 years in the inner London Congestion Zone.
In fact, Khan is responding to proposals contained within a City Hall-commissioned report examining ways to get London approaching net zero carbon by 2030.
The Mayor has identified his preferred option – the “Accelerated Green pathway” – but that entails hitting a range of ambitious targets, including a 27per cent reduction in car vehicle distances travelled.
And that ambitious goal is entirely at odds with the £1.2billion Silvertown road tunnel being built in Greenwich.
For the moment, Khan has only committed to “considering a number of policies that could be ready within the next few years”, including further changes to the ULEZ, which was recently extended as far as the North and South Circulars, a new road user charging system and a “Greater London boundary charge” for non-London registered vehicles entering the city.
Given the Tories at Westminster’s reluctance to offer a proper covid settlement for TfL, which provides the means for the capital’s commuters to get to work, such alternative money-generating schemes must have their attractions.
And it is just a week since the government was forced to issue a “Code Red” warning on air quality and advise Londoners to avoid “physical exertion” outdoors due to pollution levels. Clearly, it is long overdue for some serious measures to be taken to tackle the climate crisis in London.
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