Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/30035
We need socialists in London's City Hall
A socialist mayor could spearhead the fight to stop the Tories
by London Socialist Party
- Organise with trade unions to plan action to defend public services, the environment, benefits and workers' rights against Johnson's attacks; fight racism, and fight for the housing, jobs and services we need in London.
- Blame the Blairites. Kick out the pro-capitalist saboteurs.
Labour London mayor Sadiq Khan has joined the front ranks of the right-wing Labour Blairites attacking Jeremy Corbyn's policies. Who will fight for those policies in May's London elections if Sadiq Khan goes unchallenged by socialists and trade unionists?
Sadiq Khan has not actively fought austerity in any shape or form. He has not used his powers to fight for council housing and he has not supported workers fighting to improve their lives in the various strikes across London.
He is known as 'the property developers' man', as well as saying things like "London needs more billionaires". We don't, we need socialist policies that will make London work for the people who work and live in London.
London is seen as a 'Labour city', but so was Scotland, so was the north of England. The same conditions - the housing crisis, the struggle on poverty pay, etc, exist here and the same potential for disillusionment is here. It is the failure to fight by right-wing councils and Blairites that is responsible for undermining support for Labour, not the fight for socialist policies.
London faces an historic housing crisis with an estimated need for 800,000 extra homes. There are record levels of street homelessness and families in temporary accommodation. 170,000 people are homeless in London, and almost 9,000 sleep rough - three and a half times what it was in 2005.
House prices are unaffordable and people have to pay up to 70% of their income in private rents. Tens of thousands of families have been forced out of London and many more suffer overcrowding.
Yet Sadiq Khan's London plan involves building high density blocks of expensive flats at transport hubs and town centres around London, with a general aim of only 30% 'affordable', handing public land over to private property developers.
There will only be 116,000 "affordable" starts by 2022, and "private developers will continue to build most of London's new homes".
Still over 700,000 workers are paid less than the London Living Wage in London, and only 19 of 33 London councils are London Living Wage employers.
The London living wage has risen to £10.75 an hour but that doesn't take people up to a decent minimum income - four in ten Londoners don't reach the Minimum Income Standard - that's 3.6 million people.
- End poverty pay - set £15 an hour as the London Living Wage and campaign for it to be the minimum wage.
London councils have lost 50% of their funding, losing libraries, nurseries, social care, jobs and pay
Sadiq Khan is passing on Department of Transport cuts to the tune of £1 billion a year. Tube ticket offices were closed by Boris Johnson and not reopened by Khan.
- Re-open tube ticket offices. Cut fares.
Boris Johnson closed 10 fire stations and cut 14 fire engines and 552 firefighters. Sadiq Khan has not reinstated them.
We can't allow the fight for socialist policies in London to be snuffed out. The Labour Party has been two parties in one since 2015 when Corbyn first got elected. The Blairite wing inside the Labour Party was constantly undermining Jeremy Corbyn and socialist ideas, including during the election campaign itself. They preferred a continuation of the Tories to socialist policies.
The Corbyn movement is the first stages of the working class trying to find a formation and organisation that truly represents them and fights to improve their lives. Corbyn's radical manifesto has signalled a new thirst, especially amongst young people, for socialist ideas as they search for answers for the miserable conditions which they face.
In May 2020 the Greater London Authority, made up of the London mayor and Greater London Assembly, is up for election. The mayor is elected on a 1st and 2nd preference basis, and the assembly through a form of proportional representation.
We believe it is vital that there is a stand for socialist policies in this election. We are prepared to stand socialist candidates but we want to work with any other forces - trade unionists, socialists and anti-austerity campaigners, inside and outside the Labour Party - to ensure these policies are fought for in this election and help re-found a party in the interests of working class and young people.
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 19 December 2019 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.