Monday, 9 May 2016

Sadiq Khan's formula

Eops+Smob*PsP(Sub C+LD)+entCap(when & only when Env=ap)=SocDem(again).

This could be Sadiq Khan's formula for his mayoral success and possibly a future Labour electoral victory,(see below for a key to the formula)

According to his inaugural address as London Mayor (as reported  at, Sadiq  Khan seems to be offering something like this formula to explain his success and as a future template for Labour.

Firstly, stress Equal Opportunities which is seen as desirable, at least across most of the contemporary British political spectrum, likewise social mobility, although the implications of this are not always fully thought through.

SK seems to attempt a semantic solution to some of the contradictions around mobility, when he equates “…aspiring to work as a nurse in a hospital”, with “ …setting up and running your own business”,  Are we to assume he will be attempting to equalise the financial rewards of these roles?

Next, SK sounds very populist speaking of, “a big tent that appeals to everyone”, “what people really want”, “the issues that Londoners care about most”, etc.

I think this is really “pseudo-populism” which selects certain ‘popular’ issues and ignores others, hence an issue “that Londoners care about most” is “pro-business policies”, true but not always positively, many believe that such policies have been vastly detrimental to providing housing, healthcare and education in London.

Also, some Londoners at least, have green or environmental concerns (as indicated by a strong Green Party mayoral electoral performance, especially on 2nd preference votes), yet SK only includes air pollution on one of the two shopping lists of ‘popular’ issues in his speech, and then as something he would have liked to have debated, rather than something he is pledging to act on.

When SK talks of his 32 borough campaign and how he appealed to suburban Tory and LibDem supporters and cautions against future Labour over emphasis on “so-called natural Labour voters alone”, some of the criteria for his selective populism emerge.

 He maybe doesn’t want to upset suburbia with too much talk of climate crisis and wasteful consumerism. Also like Tony Blair’s new Labour project, he hopes “to offer a positive message that speaks to everyone, every sector and every industry – from public services and the steel industry to big business and the financial sector.” thus securing a Labour electoral victory, inspite of what now looks like Labour’s permanent demise as a political presence in Scotland.

As a Londoner, I am happy that we have a Labour mayor rather than a Tory one and furthermore a Mayor who personifies London’s multi-culturalism, and who saw off a Tory campaign which often seemed to use communalist slurs.

However SK’s silence on environmental issues and liking for capitalist businesses is worrying. If it means he is prepared to facilitate business as usual, (which affordable housing and improved public transport would do), but not address a rapidly worsening global environmental crisis, it could mean swapping a secure and sustainable future for a short term gain for British Social democrat politics,

Eopsis equal opportunities
Smob is social mobility
PsP is pseudo populism
Sub is suburban
C+LD is Conservatives and Liberal Democrats
entCap is entrepreneurial capitalism
Envis environment
ap  is air pollution
SocDem is Social Democracy

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