Sadiq Khan: Scottish Labour’s best days still lie ahead with Kezia at the helm

This is the full text of the speech London Mayor Sadiq Khan gave to Scottish Labour conference


It has been a difficult week for Labour. My congratulations go to our new MP Gareth Snell, and my commiserations to our brilliant candidate Gillian and the Labour Party staff and volunteers who worked tirelessly in Copeland.

It’s an honour to be here today and to speak with you in the beautiful city of Perth. Labour members make us the amazing movement we are, and I know they’ll continue fighting to get Labour candidates elected.

I’m a Londoner – born and bred.

I went to school in London.

I studied law in London.

And I’m raising my family in London.

Now I have the immense honour of serving my city as the Labour Mayor of London.

So it won’t surprise you when I say that I truly love London.

But my home city is not an island.

London doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

It’s the proud and patriotic capital of our great United Kingdom.

And as the Mayor of London – I say with pride: I love every single part of the UK.

Because the United Kingdom couldn’t exist without London – and London couldn’t exist without the UK.

And the success of my city – and of course Scotland too – will always be intertwined with the success of the whole of the UK.

London and Scotland have always had a very special relationship.

We’re both beacons of progressive values and hope within the UK.

Londoners and Scots share many of the same values and outlooks.

We celebrate our diversity and take pride in our tolerance.

We strive for equality and to increase opportunities.

And we fight tooth and nail for fairness and inclusion.

Our shared values were demonstrated when Scotland and London both voted emphatically to remain within the European Union.

And by our continued rejection of this Tory government.

Conference, these shared values are something we should be proud of and wear as a badge of honour.

I felt it was important for me to come here to Perth today – as the Mayor of London – to tell you just how much I love Scotland and the whole of the UK.

Because there are some in Scotland who try to define London as your enemy.

Who want to paint the city that I love as the home of ‘the elite’ – or ‘the establishment’.

And who want the Scottish people to believe that London is a hotbed of conservatism.

They make out that London is always working to undermine Scotland.

Well conference, I’m here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth.

Because that’s not my London.

And that’s not Labour’s London.

Because London – like Scotland – opposes the forces of division in our world.

London – like Scotland – opposes the Tories at every step of the way.

And London – like Scotland – is dedicated to fighting for a better world – based on our values of equality, fairness and justice.

Conference, we’re living through extraordinary times.

With the world becoming an increasingly divided place.


President Trump.

And the rise of populist and narrow nationalist parties around the world.

Now’s not the time to fuel that division.

Or to seek separation or isolation.

Now’s not the time to play on people’s fears.

Or to pit one part of our country – or one section of our society – against each other.

In that respect there’s no difference between those who try to divide us on the basis of whether we’re English or Scottish, and those who try to divide us on the basis of our background, race or religion.

Now of course I’m not saying that nationalists are somehow racist or bigoted – but now, more than ever – what we don’t need is more division and separation.

Conference, now’s the time to build unity.

To build a more United Kingdom.

To ensure that no one is left behind and that everyone has the opportunity to succeed.

To build an open and more inclusive economy.

To work in partnership with other countries and cities – here and around the world.

And to celebrate our diversity – knowing that it’s a strength, not a weakness.

Because the antidote to Brexit and President Trump is not to break away.

It’s to lead in a different direction – to lead in the right direction.

This is what Labour is doing in power in London.

And I have no doubt that this is what Labour will do in power once again here in Scotland.

Scotland, and Scottish Labour in particular, has been one of the great driving forces of progress and advancement for the whole of Britain.

And that great history of tackling injustice is a century-long tradition that is shared between Scotland and London.

The Labour Party first became a force for change in Parliament because of a truly great Scot – Keir Hardie – who was an MP in London.

It was Jennie Lee, a great woman of the Scottish coalfields – and a personal hero of mine – who created the Open University and improved access to the arts for everyone – a legacy that I’m proud to push forward in London today.

And more recently, Scotland has been home to Labour’s leading lights – like John Smith, Robin Cook and Gordon Brown – who led the way for a great reforming Labour government – with Scottish Labour at its very heart.

Labour is also the only party that can truly lay claim to be the party of the union.

We mustn’t allow Unionism to be presented as a Conservative notion.

By our collective action as a United Kingdom, Labour has delivered:

– the minimum wage

– stronger protections for workers

– And equal rights for women, ethnic and religious minorities and LGBT communities.

Working people face the same threats whether they’re in Dundee or Doncaster.

Stirling or Swindon.

Or Peckham or Perth.

For Labour isn’t a nationalist party.

We’re an internationalist party.

It’s about solidarity across borders.

And working together for the collective good.

But that doesn’t mean we’re not patriotic too.

I’m a patriot.

I’m proud of my country.

But I’m also a proud Londoner, father, trade unionist and Muslim.

We can reflect the multiple identities we all have, but within the UK.

Not weaken them by going our separate ways.

The real purpose for Labour is the same as it’s always been – winning power so that we can deliver the real social change we need.

Conference, it was the last Labour government that created the very institutions that Kezia and I serve in today.

It was the last Labour government that created the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies and the London Mayoralty.

And there’s no question that devolution has been good for both Scotland and London.

But it’s a long way from being a finished job.

Scotland desperately needs more control over its own destiny.

And so does London – and every nation, region and city in the UK.

In the aftermath of the EU referendum – we now have a once in a lifetime opportunity to take a big-picture look at the huge constitutional questions we face.

Questions around our relationship with the European Union.

Questions around the relationship between Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

And questions around the relationships between Whitehall and our great cities – whether it’s London, Edinburgh, Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham or Aberdeen.

Crucially, in the aftermath of Brexit, we must look at these important questions about our constitution in the whole – rather than taking a piecemeal approach.

So I fully support Kezia’s calls for a new Act of Union – designed for the post-Brexit era – to tackle the uneven spread of power between regions, nations and cities across Britain.

Conference, let me end today with this message.

Despite the great history I talked about earlier, I’m absolutely certain that Scottish Labour’s best days still lie ahead.

We ended eight years of Tory rule in London last May.

So I’m telling you it can be done.

And it must be done.

Because Labour is the only truly progressive party – in both London and Scotland.

Because Labour is the only party that can offer the real solutions to the new challenges of the 21st century.

And because Labour is the only party that wants to build bridges and create unity – rather than put up walls and foster division.

Conference, Labour in power is the only way we can create a fairer and more equal society.

And in order to take on these big challenges of the future, we’ll need to work together.

And for people to pull together.

For there’s no doubt in this truth: Together. We’re stronger.

Thank you.

Now, it’s my great pleasure to introduce the next speaker.

She’ll be leading Scottish Labour when you win back power.

She promised you in her first speech to conference that Scottish Labour would give you more to be proud of in the years ahead.

She stood for the leadership after the bitter blow of the 2015 General Election – proving that she’s a politician who steps up when times are tough.

And step up she has.

She’s delivered autonomy for the Scottish Labour Party – something that was first proposed seven years ago.

She’s delivered Scottish representation on the NEC.

She’s leading on the argument for federalism.

And she will get Scottish Labour back into power.

So it’s a real privilege to introduce my friend – and your leader – Kezia Dugdale.

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