Speech to London Labour Conference, 16th February 2013

Speech to the London Labour Party Conference

Saturday 16th February

By Rt. Hon Sadiq Khan MP (Shadow Minister for London)



Good morning

It’s great to see so many of you here in Olympic Stratford on a cold Saturday in February

And it’s a real pleasure to have the opportunity of addressing you today in my new role as Shadow Minister for London

This is my first official speaking engagement and I was keen for it to be here, today, in front of you as members of London Labour


It is an honour and a privilege to be asked to take on this role by Ed Miliband

London is in my blood

It has shaped me as a person from the day I was born in St George’s hospital in Tooting

I grew up in South London

I went to London primary and secondary schools  

I went to a London university 

I was a local councillor for 12 years in Wandsworth

And before becoming the MP for Tooting I worked as a solicitor in London

London continues to shape and inspire me every single day


Being a born and bred Londoner gives me immense pride in being from the best city in the world

And I also take pride that thousands of other people have moved to London and have made it their home – whether from other parts of this country or overseas

And this great city has made them welcome just as it has over many centuries to waves of other people who chose to make London their home

Just as my parents did in the 1960s – coming to London from Pakistan

They settled in London

They felt accepted by the city and those who lived here

On every level, London exemplifies what we mean by One Nation 


And we demonstrated that last summer when this city put on the greatest show the world has ever seen

And it’s great to be back here in Olympic Newham

Where, here in Stratford, we showed the world what we’re about

Putting on the best Olympic and Paralympic games ever

On grey cold days like today, I’m sure I’m not alone in still getting real inspiration – a warm feeling inside – thinking back to the fun of the 2012 Olympics

I get real inspiration from remembering those halcyon days last summer when the atmosphere in this city was truly amazing

Along with many of you in this room, I can say I was here when it happened


If ever we needed an advertising campaign to promote this city then look no further than the hundreds of hours worth of footage from those amazing weeks

And we know how much hard work over a decade went into making last summer the success it was

We as a party should be proud of the political leadership we showed in bringing the games to London

Many people deserve special mention

But I want, at this point, to ask you all to give a big round of applause to show your appreciation to our very own Dame Tessa Jowell

The central role that she played in bringing the games to London and making the 2012 London Olympics an outstanding success should never be forgotten

Thank you Tessa


As we look forward to the political battles ahead, it’s also a real pleasure to welcome Alan Olive to his new role as the Director of London Region Labour Party

This is Alan's first London conference and he and his team are committed in ensuring we do all that we can to help Labour in London

I look forward to working with Alan and his team over the coming months and years. 


It's also a real pleasure to have been paired with Gareth Thomas MP who will be working with me in the task ahead

As many of you will know, Gareth is one of the truly nice people in politics

Gareth says that Ed has given him a specific task of reminding a south Londoner like me that there is a London north of the Thames as well as south of it!

I'm very lucky to have you on board Gareth

But what Gareth doesn’t know is that Ed asked me to make sure I open your eyes to the treasures that lie in the south of this great city!


But, in all seriousness, in their day-to-day lives, Londoners are facing difficult times

There are some pressing issues which are affecting the lives of people across this city

Labour’s challenge is to show that we understand these pressures

And that we are on the side of the people of this great city

If we do that, then we will return Labour councillors, MPs, MEPs, members of the London assembly and a Labour Mayor

Because I know that a Labour London is a better London

But I’m under no illusions the scale of the task ahead for Labour in London

But it's a task I don't shy away from

And I hope that each and every one of you in this room – and beyond – is up for the challenge, and up for working with me

Because I know we are capable of delivering the Labour representation the people of London need

Labour protecting their standard of living, their jobs, their homes and their well being  


London is a city of more than 8 million people, and growing

Labour has 38 MPs out of 73

We run 16 local authorities out of 32

We have 2 MEPs

And have 12 members out of the 25 on the London Assembly – the most we've had at any time in its existence

I pay tribute to each and every one of our Labour elected representatives in London

Working hard on behalf of Londoners on all points of the compass across this city

Our first challenge over the coming years is to maintain our Labour support in those areas where we have MPs, councillors, GLA members

But we also know that we have to do better

And there shouldn’t be any no go areas for us in London 

Let’s remember that since 1997, we’ve lost 400,000 votes in London – a quarter of our total

And over that time, we’ve lost hard working Labour MPs too

So, our priority must be in reaching out to those lost voters

Showing them we have learnt from our mistakes, and that we are serious about being the party that has the solutions to today’s challenges


So how do we do this?

How do we translate this into more than just fighting talk?

Well, as I’ve said earlier – by demonstrating to Londoners that it’s Labour that are on their side during these tough times, and that we've got the answers to the big problems

And what are those big problem issues facing London on a day to day basis?


Firstly, we’re facing a housing crisis in this city unprecedented since the reconstruction after the blitz

London is under threat of being socially cleansed of anyone earning a low or even modest income

All exacerbated by a government whose policies are dealing with the symptoms and not the cause of this crisis, meaning thousands of people's lives will be turned upside down, relationships with families and friends fractured, split up from their jobs and communities 

But we know this crisis is affecting many thousands of people, and not just those in social and affordable housing

Also, it’s affecting those on incomes which would mean almost anywhere else in the country would be sufficient to buy a house, or rent a decent sized property

Secondly, we are facing excruciating cuts to our emergency services

This includes the potential loss of 65 police stations and front counters, and 12 fire stations across the city

Boris’s deputy in charge of policing – Stephen Greenhalgh – isn’t even sure about how many police there are on our streets

And we’re expected to have confidence in clowns like Boris and Greenhalgh keeping our streets safe?

That’s why I welcome the decision by our Labour Assembly members to report the Mayor to the UK Statistics Authority for misrepresenting the facts on police numbers


And the Mayor has even seen fit to challenge the wisdom and experience of the London Fire Authority who are opposed to his mad plans for fire station reductions

Funny how he didn’t mention any of this in his manifesto less than a year ago


Thirdly, there is the ongoing and heartbreaking top down reorganisation of the Labour-created NHS – 9 A&Es across London are under threat

We've seen tens of thousands on the streets in Lewisham, Hammersmith and Ealing horrified at what this government is doing to their local hospitals

Yesterday, the NW London Primary Care Trusts will announce whether the closures of Charing Cross, Central Middlesex, Hammersmith & Ealing A&Es are proceeding


How far will this government go before we reach the tipping point?


And fourthly, there are very real cost of living pressures facing Londoners

Utility bills, food, travel – the cost of all of these is rising faster than inflation

When linked to the pressures on housing, it’s no wonder that many Londoners are struggling to keep their heads above water


These are some of the major issues that Londoners face

And as Labour Party members and activists it is our fundamental duty to stand up on behalf of Londoners and challenge this Tory led coalition government, and the Tory Mayor, head on

And to win London for Labour


You know, London really is a unique place

The historian and biographer of London Peter Ackroyd describes London as a living breathing being

And you know what, he’s dead right

London certainly has a personality – and if you don’t treat it with respect or you do not even try and to understand what makes it tick below the surface, it will turn on you and I guarantee that London will win

The Conservative Mayor, Boris Johnson, would do well to remember that when he starts jeopardising the safety and prosperity of ordinary Londoners.


On the other hand, Labour has proved all across London that it can be the party that really works for this city 

We mustn't forget the work that London’s first Mayor Ken Livingstone did during his two terms in office:

  • the introduction of the Oyster card for London transport
  • free use of buses for under-18s in full-time education
  • the revival and increased usage of London buses – and as a former Buses minister, I can vouch that we had a bus network the envy of the world
  • the brave but right decision to introduce the Congestion Charge
  • And it was a Labour Mayor that laid the groundwork for Crossrail and the East London Line extension
  • Not forgetting his role in bringing the Olympics to London and the regeneration this has led to in this part of the city


London – and Labour in London – owe Ken Livingstone a great debt

Ken recognised that London deserved ambition

After decades of neglect by the Tories there was a huge effort needed just to catch up

Let’s not forget the Tories abolished the GLC for purely selfish partisan reasons and left London without a city wide strong voice

It was Labour that gave that voice back to London

Ken then argued the corner for the city

He got the investment – into our public transport, into regenerating the east end


But there's much more to do

Our ambition must not be dimmed 

Paris has built 6 rail lines like Crossrail over 30 years - we've only just managed to get one off the ground 

So treading water is not an option

But the current incumbent of City Hall is a master at treading water

And living off the legacy of his Labour predecessor

Everything he claims credit for was mostly started by Labour – be it the bike hire scheme or the upgrade of the tube and building of Crossrail and the East London Line


But perhaps I do him a disservice

He's been very good at three things

Building a lame duck cable car that the hard pressed commuters of this city must be grateful for

Chasing newspaper headlines rather than doing anything of substance

And being the most amazing irritant to David Cameron

I admit that the third of these does make me smile a little

But then I remember that Boris’s energies being spent on undermining Cameron mean even less of his attention spent on London

Boris has spent his time as mayor using city hall as an alternative power base as a stepping stone to getting back into parliament 

London deserves better than a Mayor who isn't interested in the job he is doing but is more interested in another job he'd rather do - leader of the Tory party

The Tory party and Boris really do deserve each other


But Boris as the Tory's mayor also shows the disdain they show towards London

That he is their shining light, the person they chose to be their candidate to run this great city shows the kind of disrespect to the challenges we face in London 


Contrast this with the fine work being done by Labour run councils across London

They are leading the way in innovative ideas that really benefit Londoners

Here in Newham, for example, we have the first local authority in England to tackle rogue landlords in the private rented sector by implementing a compulsory system of landlord registration to tackle problems such as poor property condition, and unauthorised multiple occupation 

That's Labour on the side of Londoners


Or what about Lambeth Council, the first co-operative council in the country – bringing local people together and working to enhance their communities

True innovation coming from the grass roots

These are just two examples but they are great examples nonetheless of Labour London leading the way with policies that are designed to benefit the many and not the few.


And I also want to pay testimony to Labour councillors in opposition across London

I know from my 12 Years as an opposition councillor in Wandsworth that it’s not glamorous and you get little credit for what you do

But it is crucial in holding to account the excesses of Lib Dem and Tory run councils across London

And we rely on you to lead local party activists in campaigns

The work you do is invaluable, for which we are enormously grateful


So what are my ambitions for London?

Well I want to see a London in which people can live regardless of how much they earn and not only for those that can afford to live here

If London is to remain one of the top cities in the world then it must work for everyone - the banker, the nurse, the office worker, the cleaner, the teacher, the shop worker - all have a rightful place in this city

And this is why success for the Labour party at the forthcoming elections is absolutely crucial

Working on behalf of everyone

Seeking to maintain the magnificent diversity and vibrancy that London is renowned for the world over 

So that means labour focusing on housing, on cost of living, on public services, on crime and community safety, and on transport as the key drivers of maintaining London's position


And that leads us onto future elections and future candidates

We have 38 Labour MPs in London

My ambition is to win back the 6 we lost in May 2010


So I serve notice on the Tory MPs representing the decent people living in Hendon, Harrow East, Brentford &Isleworth, Battersea, Ealing and Enfield North that Labour is determined to win back those seats

And I say to the people of Ilford North, Croydon Central and Finchley & Golders Green we are going to earn your trust and confidence again

It’s funny how friendly many of the MPs in these constituencies have been since I was appointed into my role as Shadow London Minister

I’m afraid that it won’t wash – we won’t be toning down our campaigning rigour because you’ve been nice to me!


But let’s not forget those thousands of Londoners let down by the 2 faced, shameless and habitual promise breakers in Brent Central, Bermondsey & Old Southwark and Hornsey & Wood Green

We intend to win these seats also

This is also a good opportunity to quickly mention the London connection we have in the forthcoming Eastleigh by election in the shape of the brilliant John O’Farrell

 Those of you who know John will be able to attest to his commitment to the party over the years so it really is great to see him fighting to win on the 28th February and would urge as many of you as possible to make a trip down to Eastleigh in the next week if possible.


Today begins the process of finding the Labour candidates whose victories in the early hours of May the 8th 2015 will mean we have a Labour government again

And because we want our Party and Parliament to better reflect the society we seek to represent Ealing and Acton Central, Enfield North, Harrow East, Hornsey & Wood Green, and Lewisham Deptford will definitely have women Labour candidates

We also need to ensure other parts of our communities are represented - even more so in London given the fantastically diverse nature of this great city

I want to see more women standing for election, more BAME candidates, more working class candidates

Labour London needs to reflect London

But above all, I want to see candidates that are in it for the right reasons

Do not think for one second that being an elected politician is easy – it’s hard work

But, if hard is work is your thing, and standing up for and speaking up for local people is your thing, then it is one of the most rewarding jobs you could ever imagine.  

If you don't think you are ready that's nonsense

To help you, to give you the skills you need and to ensure we have Labour representatives that represent the best of our communities I am pleased to announce that we will begin advertising next week for the next tranche of future candidates programme.


And we need to make sure we have a set of policies that show to Londoners we are on their side

My colleague John Cruddas has outlined the timescale for the next 26 months as we assemble our policy offer

There’s the first phase up to July 2013

Then the second phase post conference 2013

Finally six months post 2014 Conference to distil into a Manifesto and Pledge Cards.

To deliver this, Ed has set up three sub-committees that he will chair

These are on the Economy, Society and Politics, all under the One Nation banner

On the economy, we will be focusing on living standards and a reformed, responsible capitalism that is more democratic.

On society, our focus is on the family and home, well being, duty and responsibility, looking at crime, policing, immigration and childcare

On politics, the focus is constitutional reform, reviving local government, and the balance between liberty and security


And all three of these will deliver a manifesto on which Labour, at the next General Election, will stand

And this manifesto will determine the success of returning and growing the number of Labour MPs we have in this city


So let’s get out there onto the London streets and make sure that we keep this great city moving forward with a progressive and inclusive politics that will benefit the many and not the few

Because I know you’ll agree with me that a Labour London is a better London

And it is our challenge to persuade the voters of this great city to put their trust in us, and deliver that Labour London

And by doing so we'll take a huge stride towards the return of a Labour government in 2015

Thank you very much indeed


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