‘We can’t get complacent in London: Sadiq faces a difficult path to re-election’

Len Duvall

The Conservatives at City Hall showed their true colours last week, voting against the budget of the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and his scheme to feed hungry children a nutritious meal every day at school.

We know that free school meals are changing lives in London. They’re saving families more than £1000 per child at a time when bills are rising.

Policies like free school meals are changing lives in London

Previously, the government would only give meals to the very poorest – parents on Universal Credit had to earn less than £7,400 a year to qualify. It meant that thousands of children missed out, leaving 180,000 children across London going hungry. For those who did get them, many faced the stigma of poverty.

This is just one way that we have helped protect London from the damage the Conservatives have done to the rest of the country. This is the sort of difference that Labour makes when we win power – at all levels of government.

Our party has rightly been focused on winning the general election. With a string of fantastic by-election victories under our belt, it’s easy to see why. But we still don’t know when that is going to be – with some speculating that the government may try run down the clock to the end of the year.

We don’t know when the general will be – but council elections are in May

We do know that the London Mayor and Assembly elections will be on 2nd May – along with the other mayors, councillors and PCCs outside of London.

If the Tories decide to cut and run, holding the polls on the same day, then these elections appear straightforward. If these elections stand alone, we cannot assume that hatred of the Tories in Westminster will get us over the line.

The government is trying every trick in the book to gerrymander these polls. Voters will need photo ID – something the Electoral Commission has said kept 4% of non-voters away in the council elections last year.

Photo ID voting is bad news for a diverse city

London’s population is very diverse and the communities least likely to have ID are over-represented here – meaning the results could be distorted even further.

The government has also changed the voting system. Until now, Londoners have had a first and second preference for their Mayoral votes. No one was calling for it to change.

The Conservatives in Westminster, however, have taken away the second preference. Previously some of those who voted Green or Lib Dem would use their second preference to vote Labour. Scrapping the second preference appears rigs the system in their favour.

Tories have raised election spending limits by 80%

In 2021, the Tories came within 5% of Labour’s vote for the Mayor – closer than everyone thought it would be. This time, the Tories have raised spending limits by an eye-watering 80% to £760,000 and we expect them to spend it.

So, in a standalone election, Labour faces an uphill battle if we want to secure Sadiq Khan a historic third term and the Labour Assembly Members needed to help him deliver in office.

Our record in City Hall is impressive: as well as free school meals, the mayor is delivering a fare freeze on public transport, the highest level of council house building since the 1970s and is plugging the funding gaps left by the government in the police and fire service.

Bus fares, housing allowance, knives, ticket offices: our record is strong

We protected the fares concessions for over-60s and the school bus passes when the government tried to remove them after the pandemic.

On top of this, our Labour Mayor and London Assembly Members have kept the government’s feet to the fire nationally.

We’ve campaigned for the much-overdue lift to Local Housing Allowance, joined with families and activists to call for tougher laws on zombie knives, partnered with unions to cause the government to u-turn on its plans to close station ticket offices and we’ve worked with women’s groups to secure a national domestic abuse register – and Labour Assembly Members plan more of this in the future.

Contrast this with the Conservatives.

From Boris to Susan, the Conservative record is not

As well as trying to deprive hungry children of food, there are some serious questions about the values of Conservative mayoral candidate Susan Hall, whose social media history shows that she is out of touch with the priorities of Londoners.

When the Tories had power in City Hall, under mayor Boris Johnson, Londoners lost out. He colluded with the Conservatives in government to get rid of TfL’s central funding – pushing costs onto overstretched commuters.

He gutted social housing out of London’s construction programme. In his final year of office – the only year where he controlled almost all of City Hall’s housing delivery – he funded just three homes for social rent. Compare that with the current mayor, who, in the last year, funded 6,380.

Don’t let the Tories hold London back

He wasted money on vanity projects like the uncompleted garden bridge, while overseeing a programme of cuts to City Hall’s revenue that left gaping holes in the budgets in the long-term – something we expect to happen again should the Conservatives win in London.

During their 14 years in government, the Conservatives have done immense damage to the rest of the country and held London back. Members, activists and community members have to make sure they do not do have another chance in London.

We can take Labour’s message across the capital – showing the difference we are making from City Hall. Between now and 2nd May, make sure you join the campaign.

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