Is Sadiq Khan rattled? In his latest Speak to Sadiq on LBC on Thursday morning the current Mayor of London appeared unsettled when asked about the threat to his leadership from candidates from the smaller parties. He repeatedly described this current election campaign as ‘a two-horse race’.
Khan came under fire recently from actor Lawrence Fox, who accused him of being racist for celebrating a lingerie brand that displayed a diverse array of dark-skinned models. This week also saw the announcement by Khan of several new policies that included £55 million pounds worth of schemes to stop excluded pupils from getting funnelled into a life of crime, and a £3.6 million pound fund to make new homes more efficient.
Shaun Bailey meanwhile has suggested that, should he become London’s new mayor in May, tube fares will rise in order to create capital that will be reinvested back into the service. This comes in the same week that Bailey vowed to bring in a burglary flying squad to help deal with rising crime levels. The former youth worker and advisor to David Cameron added in an interview with City AM that it was time for Sadiq Khan to end a culture of cronyism which he says, among other things, has developed at City Hall.
Today is also an important day for Liberal Democrat Siobhan Benita. The Kingston-based candidate, whose pro-cannabis stance is an antithesis to Bailey‘s policy ideas, will launch her campaign today. In an interview with Shout Out last week on the banks of the Thames, Benita stated:
‘if we’re saying we want to do everything we can to tackle knife crime we need to look at reforming our drugs policy.’
This bucks the trend set by her rivals Khan and Bailey when it comes to tackling serious crime, who instead propose to dramatically increase police numbers.
Last of the party candidates, Sian Berry launched her campaign this week. Among her key policy proposals aimed at making London a greener city, is the closing of London City Airport. But there is one other policy that will certainly raise the attention of young Londoners. As well as calling for a student rent rate, Berry intends to freeze rent for all Londoners with the intention of lowering rent in the capital over the coming years. After the Greens accused Sadiq Khan of using one of her ideas, is there a possibility that a version of this will appear in his future plans?
Have you seen Rory Stewart? Is he eating your fishcakes? Maybe not. The former Conservative Minister, now Independent candidate has been staying in the houses of Londoners as part of his #ComeKipWithMe campaign that encourages Londoners to show him their London. On a less light-hearted note, Stewart has stated that he would like to heal his rift with Boris Johnson so that there can be improved communication between City Hall and 10 Downing Street should he become mayor.
Drillminister has had a quiet week. In an interview with NME the rapper made it clear his manifesto would be ground-breaking. Ahead of this he’s revealed a couple of suggestions to help the homelessness crisis in London. These include: ‘look[ing] into reclaiming abandoned buildings, as well as introducing a contactless card that will allow homeless Londoners to secure key resources’.
Former key UKIP figure David Kurten has also been under the radar. In an interview with Sputnik the Independent candidate again stated a need to end ‘politically correct policing’. Similarly to Shaun Bailey he called for an end to ‘virtue signalling’, though it’s important to stress that Bailey was referring to those from the left-wing and Kurten meant activists.
Following the developments in this mayoral election campaign, I have two questions:
Is Sadiq Khan making a mistake in dismissing the smaller parties’ competitiveness? And: What impact will this have once tactical voting is considered as we get closer to the crucial vote on May 7?