Zac Goldsmith

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…)

Advertisements

‘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…)