Chloe Westley is the Campaign Manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance.
During the coming weeks, this website will be filled with articles about who should be the next Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister. There will be a fierce battle of ideas between those who would prefer to continue with Mayism, and those who are hoping for change. There will be advocates of a No Deal Brexit, and those who would rather a closer relationship with the EU.
But there is one point that I think all Conservatives can agree on – and that’s the appalling track record of Sadiq Khan’s tenure as Mayor of London.
Last week, four people in London were murdered in four days. This extraordinary tragic set of events sparked cries of outrage at politicians, and particularly the politician who is responsible for dealing with crime in London. The respectful thing for the Mayor to do, would have been to apologise for his lack of action and look into how he could divert more of his £18 billion budget into policing. Instead, Sadiq Khan refused to take responsibility. He claimed that ‘government cuts’ – not his own wasteful spending in other areas – had deprived the Met of the resources needed to tackle crime.
So how hard-pressed for cash is City Hall exactly? Well, somehow the Mayor found £300,000 to put on a pool party, and £20,000 to gift to a 2nd referendum campaign group. Remarkably he also found £200,000 for a flashy new website, £175,000 for a PR campaign on why ‘London is Open’, and £1.7 million for new water fountains. Oh, and of course he miraculously discovered £9 million for new hires and pay rises for City Hall staff, which could have funded 150 police officers.
Not only is Khan wasting taxpayers’ money; he’s also exploiting the office he holds to grandstand on issues which have nothing to do with the job that taxpayers pay him to do. In order to distract from the terrible job he’s doing as Mayor, Khan decides to use his platform to virtue signal about foreign affairs and social issues.
Take this inspirational video for Elle, in which he proudly declares himself a feminist. Or this video interview where he criticises Donald Trump’s domestic policies and says he shouldn’t be welcome in the UK. Or the countless times he’s called for a second referendum.
Now, you may agree with some of his opinions on these issues, but is this relevant to anything that taxpayers actually pay him to deal with? I don’t think Londoners voted for Khan so that he could seek airtime to assert his moral superiority on foreign affairs and social issues. They wanted to elect someone who would focus on improving public services like transport and policing.
Aside from virtue signalling on Twitter, the only thing he’s been able to actually achieve is to introduce a white van tax and banning ‘junk food’ advertising on the tube. Even Faiza Shaheen, a Labour Parliamentary candidate, has recognised that Khan’s van tax will hit poorer families the hardest.
And that ‘junk food’ ad ban turned out to be a ‘pretty much any food’ ban. As industry leaders tried to warn Khan, the definition of ‘junk food’ is so broad that even a bowl of strawberries would be deemed too dangerous for commuters’ eyes. If companies find they are constantly being asked to redesign their advertisements to remove all images of food, they might decide it’s not worth the hassle, resulting in less revenue for TfL. Staying very true to character, both of these policies were about ‘feeling good’ and getting a PR hit – as opposed to ‘doing good’ and thinking about the wider impact on Londoners.
As Khan tweets and tours TV studios to express his disapproval of Trump and Brexit, London suffers. Londoners have suffered through 16 tube strikes, despite Khan pledging that there would be zero strikes under his watch. In the years since Khan was first elected, reported knife crime has increased by 52 per cent, robberies up by 59 per cent, and the homicide rate by 26 per cent.
Compare Khan’s track record with Boris Johnson’s. Delays on the tube went down by around 50 per cent, making it easier for Londoners to get to work on time. And after making the tough decision to give the police greater powers to stop and search those suspected of carrying weapons, the murder rate in London went down by 50 per cent, the crime rate down by 20 per cent.
Londoners have had enough of Khan’s virtue signalling and incompetence. It’s time to put us out of our misery. We need a Mayor who focuses on the job that he or she is paid to do, who puts the needs of residents and taxpayers above the temptation to hand out pay-rises, bonuses and jobs for their mates. We need a Mayor who can take responsibility for problems in London without shifting the blame to central government.