Khan: ambitious plans but setting expectations
7 April 2016, Blog
As Election Day on the 5 May looms nearer, Labour’s Mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan MP is staying firmly on message, attempting to cultivate in the electorate’s mind a persuasive image of his backstory, his ambitions, and what he can achieve. Nowhere is this message more powerful than in what may prove to be the most decisive topic in the race to City Hall – London’s housing crisis.
Sadiq Khan has a powerful origin story which sharply contrasts with the background of his Tory rival Zac Goldsmith MP. Khan is the Muslim son of an immigrant bus driver; he embodies the aspirational desires of many of the capital’s residents and is a strong symbol for social mobility. On Tuesday (5 May) he spoke in Tooting, where he grew up, and branded himself as the ‘council estate boy who can fix housing’. He has previously spoken about his own experiences with housing, describing sleeping in a bunk bed in his parent’s home until he was 24 so he and his wife could save for a deposit.
Khan’s solution is more than ambitious; he aims for half of all homes built in London to be ‘affordable’ and he will personally lead a new housing agency called ‘Homes for Londoners’. This is no mean feat, previous Mayor Ken Livingstone never achieved his target of 50% and current Mayor Boris Johnson scrapped it. Not only that, but ‘Homes for Londoners’ will need land, finance and a dedicated team.
It’s for this reason that Khan has been setting expectations. Yes, he’s the ‘council estate boy’ who is aiming to dramatically improve the supply of housing, but it will take a long time to achieve and much political wrangling. Khan told politics.co.uk “It’s going to be tough for the first few years”, and he’s right – but on the path to Mayor he’s been promising the moon and he needs temper his claims: “I can’t pull a lever on May 6th and everything becomes hunky dory overnight”.
Will Pender, Account Executive