Advertisement

Sadiq Khan accuses Tories of ‘abject failure’ as he launches bid to be re-elected London mayor

Sadiq Khan has accused the Conservatives of an “abject failure” on housing as he pledged to build tens of thousands of new council homes if he is re-elected London mayor.

Launching his bid for a third term as Labour mayor on Monday, Mr Khan pledged to unleash the “greatest council housebuilding drive in a generation” if voted back in.

Speaking alongside Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer at Citizen’s Advice Westminster, he vowed to build 40,000 new council homes in London by 2030, after hitting his previous goal last year of 20,000.

He said the capital would go “much further, much faster” with Labour running both Downing Street and City Hall and without the Tories “holding us back”.

The mayor vowed to deliver a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to make real inroads into solving London’s housing crisis” and “end the scandal of rough sleeping”.

He said: “There’s been one constant – on abject failure on (the Conservative government’s) behalf to appreciate the gravity of this crisis. We saw it when the last home secretary claimed homelessness is, quote, a lifestyle choice. We saw it last week when the latest housing minister said housing is never really the problem.

“And I’m under no illusion about the scale. The challenge has been decades in the making, but with political will, it can be overcome.”

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan appeared alongside Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer (PA Wire)
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan appeared alongside Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer (PA Wire)

Sir Keir said that all Mr Khan’s achievements as London mayor had been “in the teeth of a Tory government”, saying he had spent eight years “fighting for London with a government that is hostile to progress because of the mayor”.

With a general election coming later this year, the Labour leader said: “Imagine the transformation if we had a Labour mayor in London, working alongside a Labour government, how much more we could do – at much greater pace – for all of our communities.

“We know that, nationally, the country wants change, you can feel it everywhere you go. Fourteen years of failure and the country wants the chance to say ‘let’s change’.

“They know the Tories can’t deliver that change. Look around you, is there anything now working better than it did 14 years ago? The answer to that question is no.”

Sadiq Khan and Keir Starmer on a visit to a major new City Hall-funded council housing development after launching his re-election campaign (Getty Images)
Sadiq Khan and Keir Starmer on a visit to a major new City Hall-funded council housing development after launching his re-election campaign (Getty Images)

Describing the mayoral election on 2 May as a “two-horse race” and the “closest contest ever” between himself and Conservative candidate Susan Hall, Mr Khan said the vote would “determine whether London’s brightest days are ahead of us or behind us”.

The latest YouGov/Mile End Institute Poll has Mr Khan and Labour on 49 per cent, with his closest Ms Hall trailing behind at 24 per cent.

“Please don’t leave it to chance,” he added. “Vote for the future you want for our amazing city on 2 May.”

Last week, the London mayor wrote in The Independent that new voter ID rules and changes to the mayoral voting system could prevent him from being re-elected.

In previous mayoral elections voters could make a first and second choice for mayor, however this time they will only get one vote. “This means a vote for any party other than Labour only makes it more likely that Londoners end up with a Tory mayor,” he said.

Warning that fresh rules on photo ID could also impact his chances, Mr Khan added: “New rules making it compulsory to have an approved form of ID - a deliberate attempt to reduce turnout - also puts the election on a knife-edge.

“Analysis shows more than 900,000 Londoners - likely to include large numbers of young people and those from minority communities - might not have valid ID and will thus be barred from exercising their democratic right to vote.

“At the last London Mayoral election, in 2021, I was less than 5 per cent ahead after the first round of voting. These are the finer margins we’ll now be dealing with.”

Additional reporting by PA