Photos: Paul Mattson, Public Domain and London SP
Photos: Paul Mattson, Public Domain and London SP

Helen Pattison, Socialist Party London Regional Secretary

There’s a palpable feeling when you talk to ordinary Londoners that this expensive city is falling apart. A recent survey found a majority feel the city is getting worse. From housing to health, it’s letting people down.

On 2 May, London goes to the polls in the Greater London Authority (GLA) elections to elect the Mayor and 25 assembly members. It’s very likely that Labour’s Sadiq Khan will be elected again. He became Mayor in 2016, and in 2021 he won again with only 11% voting for him.

Why aren’t people enthused?

Well for starters, none of the fire stations that Boris Johnson closed have been reopened. And when campaigners have gone to lobby Greater London Assembly meetings on a number of issues, they have been ignored and thrown out.

Khan hasn’t used his powers or considerable budget to stand up for ordinary people. He has failed to stand up to the Tories on Transport for London funding, the network is ageing and falling apart as a consequence.


On the big issues like housing, he continues to work with property giants and let working-class people down.

It’s only because the Tories’ record on council house building has been so truly abysmal that Khan has felt able to say that London is entering a new “golden era of council house building”. There are over 320,000 people on council house waiting lists in the city. That 32,000 homes over eight years counts as a “golden era” is laughable!

Khan has “funded” free school meals. Although the funding doesn’t actually cover the cost of feeding school children.

Khan vs Keir?

Early on in the war on Gaza he called for a ceasefire. Similarly, as an MP previously he opposed the Iraq war. That said, he isn’t an opposition figure in the Labour Party. If he wins mayor again in 2024, which is likely, he will use his position to work side-by-side with Keir Starmer.

After a recent meeting, one of Starmer’s staff said: “The meeting was really positive and was a great example of how Keir’s Labour government will operate – in partnership with our elected mayors”. But it won’t be working-class people that benefit. Starmer and Khan want the capitalist class to know they will serve their interests in Westminster and City Hall.

Transport workers in particular have learnt over the last eight years that Khan is no friend to people fighting for decent pay and better working conditions. Bus workers thought that “son of a bus driver” Khan would sort out low pay and other issues facing drivers, he hasn’t. Instead it’s been left to drivers to organise strike after strike to improve pay against the myriad of private bus firms operating in London.

Most recently it was Underground workers in the RMT union who took on Khan. They had to threaten five days worth of rolling action before he came to the table with an extra £30 million for pay. It will mean that many workers don’t suffer the impact of inflation and will be used to increase the pay of some of the lowest-paid staff on the Underground. Still, to put it in perspective, senior managers on the Underground got £12 million in bonuses in the last year.

Already Khan is in election mode, constantly in the London press whipping up fears he will lose to the Tories’ Susan Hall, despite the fact he has a clear lead in the polls.

While saying he stands against division, he actually drives it. For example, he denounced anti-Ulez campaigners as ‘far-right’, when lots of ordinary people worry about how they will afford any form of transport in the city. Khan’s own transport strategy document said his travel proposals would have the biggest negative impact on; the poorest, older people, disabled people and families.

Working-class alternative

Without a force putting forward a fighting alternative, millions are likely to simply stay home and not vote.

That’s why Socialist Party members, along with other campaigners, are planning to stand as part of TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition). We plan to stand in three assembly constituency seats: City and East; Waltham Forest, Hackney and Islington; and Croydon and Sutton, to offer hundreds of thousands a real alternative.

Our campaigns will be about the measures the mayor could actually take to challenge growing poverty and poor housing. How we could stand up to the building companies and kick the profiteers out of transport.

The viciousness of capitalism is exposed in London. The capital of one of the richest economies in the world has huge levels of destitution. That’s why we will be explaining the need to bring an end to capitalism, where the world’s wealth is hoarded by a tiny minority, and making the case for socialist change.