LondonUnlocked

The next Mayor of London?

Mayoral Election 2016, The NewsSimon FellComment

Shadow Minister for London, Sadiq Khan, has been selected as Labour's standard-bearer in the upcoming mayoral election. His backstory and understanding of the city makes him a compelling candidate. As the BBC reports:

He grew up on a south London housing estate, one of eight children, his father a bus driver. His children went to the same primary school as him. The Tooting constituency he represented since 2005 is where he’s lived all his life.

In the second decade of the 21st Century some might argue the fact he is Muslim should pass unremarked. But his accession to City Hall would, for many, be a powerful statement of the city’s diversity.
— BBC News

Many have attributed Mr Khan's success over Tessa Jowell with the rise of Jeremy Corbyn. They are both seen as candidates of the left, although Mr Khan proves slightly less easy to pigeonhole.

His website details his pledges (so far) on transport:

Freeze fares: all TfL Underground, DLR and Overground fares will be frozen for four years, paid for out of existing TfL budgets and efficiencies.

Cut bus fares: a first year cut and then a freeze in bus fares, and a change to the way ticketing works so that a single journey ticket is valid for a full hour including changes. Many of London’s lowest paid workers rely on buses and this will make travelling to work more affordable for them as well as for those who aren’t connected to the tube network.

Taking more rail services under TfL control: following the success of London Overground, and the expansion of TfL’s rail network to include commuter routes taken over from Anglia, Sadiq will push for TfL to take on more London commuter rail services.

Support growth of both Oyster and contactless payment methods: ensure fare structures remain equal so that no-one loses out from using one payment method rather than another.

And alongside those plans, he also discusses his vision for the future of transport:

Crossrail 2: Secure a funding deal for Crossrail 2 and review the route to ensure that it helps deliver jobs, regeneration, social inclusion and housing – while beginning consultation about future rail services including Crossrail 3.

Put business and boroughs centre stage: Ensure that businesses and London councils are given a central role in planning London’s transport infrastructure not just for the next 20 years but for the next 50.

Promote smarter travel: Working with employers to enable more Londoners to work flexibly and move away from rush hour travel. Sadiq will also champion new measures to encourage cycling and walking while making them safer in order to relieve traffic jams and congestion at peak times.

Not mentioned on the site is Heathrow - an issue where he has tacked away from his party and spoken against further expansion, likely with one eye on the contest ahead.

All this is well and good, but the real challenge for Sadiq Kahn will come ahead of the mayoral election where he will have to define himself against the actions of the government and current Mayor.

Tomorrow, MPs will vote on the Trade Union Bill, which would introduce higher ballot thresholds for strike action, as well as imposing other restrictions if passed. In response, unions are already talking up a general strike. This is a tactic that has remained unused since the 1920s and if talk turns to action, it will be a real test of Mr Khan's political mettle as to how he acts and whether he supports or condemns such a move. Either would have significant implications for his campaign.

We welcome Mr Khan to the campaign.