Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Not a good beginning

Let us be fair to Mr Sadiq Khan: he has not been the Mayor of London for very long and is probably dazzled by his sudden transition from a little known mediocre politician (for that is what he is) with a penchant for turning up to left-wing meetings into the politician who walks on water. The last time we had the media getting into such a state over a politician's slightest move was in the first few months of Tony Blair's premiership. (For some reason Conservatives never walk on water.) There were pictures of Mr Blair riding a bicycle and smiling at the same time, which caused ooohs and aaahs from the assembled hacks; there were pictures of him and Cherie in Beijing kicking a football and eating with chopsticks though not at the same time, causing even louder ooohs and aaahs from the self-same hacks. Well, we know the ending of that story and it is not pretty.

At the moment it is Mr Khan who is walking on water. Melanie McDonagh thinks that a Great Smug has settled on London but, actually, it is only on the media and those who take their cue from them. Most of us are waiting to see what will happen.

The omens are not good. Pace Ms McDonagh Khan's campaign was not that much better than Goldsmith's and involved several apologies for past actions that he had conveniently forgotten as well as the suspension of one adviser who had tweeted extremely unpleasant homophobic, racist and sexist comments. And, of course, we heard a great deal about him growing up on a council estate and his father being a bus driver. With hindsight, one realizes that the Conservatives should have picked Syed Kamall as a candidate not because he is far more conservative in his politics and economics, which he is, but because his father was a bus driver, too, though not from Pakistan but Guyana.

In so far as Hizonner the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has made any political statements they have been rather worrying even when somewhat vague. He proposed to crack down on Uber, to introduce rent controls, something that has never worked in favour of those who rent and never will, and has been rather vague on how he would deal with the transport unions.

Since his election he, understandably, has been putting together his ream (all of whom are very highly paid and get very generous expenses so let them not fool you when they talk about inequalities in London) but also having various photo opportunities and making statements. There were photo ops with him arriving at City Hall, being accompanied by ecstatic supporters (representatives, one assumes of the 25% of the electorate that voted for him in first and second preference) and a very important one of him attending Holocaust Memorial Service. I was roundly attacked by some of the Great Smuggers when I laughed and reminded people that Ken Livingstone, whose views on Jews are reasonably well known, also shed crocodile tears at the annual Holocaust Memorial in the Great Glass Egg (a.k.a. City Hall) in January. One year, as I recall, he even quoted from the Hitler diaries, long ago proved to be a forgery. How could I be so cynical, I was asked. It's very easy to be cynical about politicians, especially mediocre ones, I replied.

The Mayor's second public act was to produce a wish list of what he would like to do for London, has promised to fight with David Cameron to keep Britain in the EU, has met the Mayor of Paris (that must have been entertaining) and has taken on Donald Trump. Admittedly, it was not particularly bright of Trump to suggest that when he is elected Hizonner the Mayor of London can have an exemption from the ban on Muslims but for the said Mayor to launch into a major attack on a potential presidential candidate was not that smart either. He was elected to be Mayor of London and will be getting a handsome salary as well as even more handsome expenses to do that job. It does not involve comments about other countries' political events or personalities. Ken Livingstone used to do that a great deal and it was usually the US he attacked and especially the Republicans. Does Sadiq Khan aim to be another Ken Livingstone? I hope not. It would be disastrous for London.

One thing I can predict for certain: if Hizonner the Mayor, apparently intoxicated by the media hailing his as a kind of a Saviour, thinks that this will last, he will very soon become a sadder and wiser man. Any more travelling with a huge team to meet different Mayors of different cities and the grumbling will start.


  1. "(For some reason Conservatives never walk on water.)"

    Because the Left are the inheritors of the millenarian tradition.

    Very good piece. Let's see if SK makes a mess of things.

  2. Good post, Helen! Informative. Thank you.

  3. Makes me glad I moved out of London. Goldsmith was only marginally better. Boris was just a showman, and as for Ken, well. The more I think about it, the gladder I am.

  4. We had a chance to vote against the whole idea of a Mayor and Assembly but the overwhelming majority did not bother to turn out for that referendum. We get what we deserve.