Sadiq Khan

Reason to be cheerful

First published in Progress magazine

Conference in Liverpool was a success for moderates

—The honest truth is that I had not been looking forward to Labour party conference this year. 2015 had been the first year I had not enjoyed conference, not because of the leadership result, but because suddenly Brighton went from being friendly to alien. Those who were abusive online decided to be so in person, and my staff were treated in not dissimilar ways, just for doing their job. Added to this year’s trepidation was the exhaustion from a summer of Saving Labour, a National Executive Committee campaign, and a leadership contest that went straight into a conference where those behind Momentum and the so-called Campaign for Labour Party Democracy wanted to change our party beyond recognition.

There was some, I hope understandable, foreboding. In the lead-up to conference, Progress and Labour First – working together like never before – travelled the country on our Road to Conference tour. Back to the basics of how conference works, what motions would be up for discussion, why moving from a 15 per cent to five per cent threshold for nominations for the leadership – known as the ‘McDonnell amendment’ – would be so catastrophic. I always enjoy getting out of London for our various events series in British cities – invariably run by brilliant Labour councils – but often these ‘moderate meet-ups’ were as much about hearing the stories of abuse being levelled at long-standing constituency officers, Jewish members and women councillors and members of parliament as they were about policy and procedure. I called the editorial of a previous edition of Progress ‘heart-breaking times’ – little else brings it home more than when members who campaigned for Michael Foot are close to tears because a small number of supporters of the current leader shout them down in meetings and intimidate them into silence. And it is not everyone, just some. Often not ‘new members’ but those returning to relive the 1980s (and the same sad outcome). (more…)

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How Corbynistas can stop the online abuse being done in their name across the internet

Momentum could set up social media accounts to show leadership among their own supporters, but they choose not to 

First published on Independent Voices

‘No one does it in my name’, says our dear leader over and over again. But it simply is not true. The Twitter feed and Facebook pages of Labour MPs are filled with people making horrid and threatening comments towards those who speak for Labour in parliament. Not just MPs. Sadiq Khan gets booed at Corbyn rallies – showing no respect for the mandate given to him by the people of London. People like Ayesha Harazika, Sonia Sodha and Johanna Baxter, who appear regularly in the media and are not total adherents to the dear leader, get told they should be deselected and face a torrent of abuse. In an interview coming out in the next edition of Progress magazine Hazarika tells me it only bothers her when she wakes up and finds they have been ‘at it all night’. She tells me her best friend would rather she ‘step back’ it has become so unpleasant. (more…)

Here’s how Australia’s Labor leader triumphed over a hostile media and avoided the fate of Ed Miliband

First published on LabourList

A picture of Ed Miliband appears on the wall in the Australian Labor party campaign headquarters. Above the sign reads “don’t be them”. United Kingdom Labour’s high expectations and crushing defeat in 2015 had huge implications for social democrats the world over. No more so for our older sister party down under. At the time they knew a general election was due within 18 months and that while they were up against an unpopular Tory party that had just suffered a big defeat. Yet the whole party had been entangled in a huge personality battle between the previous government’s biggest figures. Sound familiar?

So why have the ALP turned their fortunes around so quickly and brought themselves to the brink of government in less than three years of opposition? (more…)

Hope needs to beat hate in London

First published by ProgressOnline

My first job after leaving student politics was to work for the All Party Parliamentary on combating Antisemitism. The inquiry commissioned by John Mann had a real impact and the then prime minister Tony Blair set up an inter-departmental committee to take forward its recommendations. Within months there was a new prime minister and Gordon Brown committed his government full-square behind the plan. He appointed first Parmjit Dhanda and then Sadiq Khan to be the minister responsible. Both had considerable strengths. The transition from one to another was a time of slight trepidation: Parmjit had been elected in 2001, was well known to those working around the APPG for his interfaith work; Sadiq on the other hand had only been elected in 2005, was – alongside Shahid Malik – was the first Muslim minister in Britain and was out of nowhere the minister for faith and combatting antisemitism. (more…)

‘London’s shop steward’

First published in Progress magazine

The soon-to-be mayor of London Sadiq Khan talks to Richard Angell and Adam Harrison, and he is hungry for new powers

We lost to everyone, everywhere’, says Sadiq Khan, quoting his friend and colleague Jon Cruddas, Labour’s former policy chief speaking on the party’s defeat last May. Scotland was a wipeout, few marginal seats were won, and the Tories even took the constituency of Gower for the first time ever. In another first, Labour lost to the Tories among Sikh and Hindu communities, and in every age category over 44. There is one exception: the capital city. In London, Labour polled 300,000 more votes than the Tories. This should be more than enough to propel the son of a bus driver into city hall this May.

Khan, however, is not complacent. His office is a hive of activity. We struggle to find a quiet spot to huddle as meeting rooms are filled with campaigning briefings and organiser training, and the phones are ringing off the hook. Karen Buck, a long-time ally of Khan and winner against the odds in hyper-marginal Westminster North, is meeting with councillor and housing lead James Murray, who splits his time between Islington town hall, the leader’s office and the mayoral campaign. The staff make up the rich diversity of Labour’s political family – everyone from ardent Corbynista to ‘redeployed’ former Michael Dugher adviser. The whole Labour family has jumped behind the member of parliament for Tooting. (more…)

Turnout tests

First published in Progress magazine

Is the notion that boosted turnout will turn Labour’s fortunes around simply outlandish? Richard Angell examines its chances

We had a problem of mobilising people’, said leadership hopeful Jeremy Corbyn – with little chance of getting on the ballot, let alone winning – as he explained why Labour lost when Progress sat down with him on 11 June 2015. A lot has changed since that interview, not least the reluctant nominee receiving a stonking 59 per cent of the first preference vote on 12 September. (more…)

King maker

First published in Progress magazine

London mayoral hopeful Oona King reveals how she would wrest City Hall from Boris’s hands, why he is ‘useless’, the Big Society a ‘con’ and how she would help tackle reoffending.

When Oona King launched her campaign to become Labour’s candidate for the 2010 London mayoral election at her old school, Haverstock, she was surprised by the response of the 14-year-olds who had been forced to sit and listen to her talking about national politics. (more…)