Labour success in London

A significant success for Labour in London with the election of Sadiq Khan as mayor.

ODT editorial: New standards by London mayor

The recent election of Sadiq Khan as the Mayor of London has been widely celebrated both in the city and throughout Britain.

His election is seen as a counter to the racially-charged political atmosphere in many parts of the world.

Mr Khan is a Muslim, which should not by itself cause any major issues.

Except, of course, far-Right campaigners in Europe, Britain and the United States have some serious problems with Muslims and Islam, in particular.

One of the first things Mr Khan did as mayor was attend the Yom Hashoah Holocaust memorial service in Barnet, which signalled a clear attempt to distance himself from the Labour Party’s leadership’s handling of recent allegations of anti-Semitism inside the party.

The mayor was warmly welcomed by members of the Jewish community and was told he had promised to be a representative for all Londoners.

His visit to the Holocaust centre was seen as the start of fulfilling his pledge.

So Sadiq Khan is setting a laudable example for Labour in the UK – and Labour in New Zealand could learn something positive from him too, and not just on his ability to connect across ethnic boundaries.

In a move which will resonate in New Zealand, Mr Khan says the key thing for him to tackle is the housing crisis.

He is bringing together an alliance of people from local authorities, housing associations, developers and those in finance to ensure building starts on the “genuine affordable homes” the city needs.

The alliance will change London’s overall strategic plan and publish new supplementary planning guidance, both policies that govern the amount of affordable housing developers are obliged to build when they erect new private homes.

Mr Khan believes his pledge to tackle the housing crisis has allowed him to reach out to voters across the political spectrum.

Phil Goff in particular could do well by learn from what is happening in London, should he become the Labour mayor of Auckland.

The campaign between Mr Khan and Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith was brutal.

Mr Khan stopped short of condemning the Tories’ mayoral election campaign as racist but said he was disappointed the Conservatives chose to have a campaign that was nasty, negative and divisive.

After spending his life encouraging minority communities to get involved in civil society in mainstream politics, Mr Khan warned he will continue fighting extremism and radicalisation.

Politics should be conducted in a positive way to enthuse people to get involved.

Some good points to note there for Andrew Little and New Zealand’s Labour strategy team (if they have one).

Labour’s mission is to change people’s lives for the better but it only did that by winning elections.

In New Zealand, Labour continues to languish in the opinion polls.

It caused outrage by linking Auckland’s housing crisis to people with Chinese-sounding names.

The party will be wise to follow the lead set by Mr Khan.

Labour, he says, can only win elections if it reaches beyond its own activists to a “big tent” of people.

But being wise doesn’t seem to have been a strength of Labour here for some time.

There are some signs that some are starting to get it.

I’ve clashed at The Standard over the years for their active animosity to anyone deemed not from the left tent, but there were often inter-tent fights in their own camp.

But some of them there seem to have realised that to become more widely popular mob attacks and hounding newcomers and driving them away are not very smart tactics for a party trying to recover support.

If activists can wake up to their self destruction and turn things around then perhaps the party and it’s leadership can do similar.

The focus on NZ Labour has been on their hash of handling Chinese sounding names and their attacks on companies (like Scenic Circle over donations) and mass smearing of people with trusts and with wealth.

It is probably not coincidental that Labour is struggling to get sufficient donations, and they are struggling to keep even meagre levels of support.

Little could do well to look at London and learn.

Pissing on the tent and pissing people off is not working, and neither it should.

Labour, Sadiq Khan says, can only win elections if it reaches beyond its own activists to a “big tent” of people.