London Mayor Sadiq Khan is a preening self-serving nonentity, says DAVID MELLOR


Hammersmith Bridge is not just a magnificent tribute to Victorian engineering and an elegant landmark on the Boat Race course, it’s a reminder of a time when London really was the greatest city in the world.

The famous suspension bridge also happens to be an important route in and out of Central London.

Yet today it lies shut, apparently in danger of collapse. And the reason for this pathetic closure is that the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has run out of money – despite a bone-crunching 9.5 per cent rise in the levy he charges council tax payers.

Sadiq Khan certainly isn’t a big law and order man. At times during his reign, the murder rate in London has been higher than in New York. Knife crime is out of control, with incidents going up by about 30 per cent some years

The polls universally show Khan in the lead, a recent one giving him a whopping 51 per cent of the vote to the Tory's 29 per cent. And this despite the national polls putting the Conservatives ahead in the country as a whole. (Above, the Mayor during a charity cycle ride on Saturday in Neasden)

The polls universally show Khan in the lead, a recent one giving him a whopping 51 per cent of the vote to the Tory’s 29 per cent. And this despite the national polls putting the Conservatives ahead in the country as a whole. (Above, the Mayor during a charity cycle ride on Saturday in Neasden)

Khan does little or nothing to protect the citizens he supposedly serves, confining himself to a few sotto voce denunciations. The police, taking their lead from their Crime Commissioner, are equally ineffective

Khan does little or nothing to protect the citizens he supposedly serves, confining himself to a few sotto voce denunciations. The police, taking their lead from their Crime Commissioner, are equally ineffective

What’s the point of a mayor who can’t keep a bridge open? Well might you ask. But, then, what’s the point of Sadiq Khan, period?

He certainly isn’t a big law and order man. At times during his reign, the murder rate in London has been higher than in New York. Knife crime is out of control, with incidents going up by about 30 per cent some years.

Add to that the fact that robberies are up by 70 per cent and muggings by more than 50 per cent, and you get the picture.

It’s something he should be ashamed of, because as well as being Mayor, Khan is London’s Police and Crime Commissioner. He is responsible in no uncertain terms. With his record, you’d think Khan would be out on his ear in Thursday’s elections.

Far from it. The polls universally show him in the lead, a recent one giving him a whopping 51 per cent of the vote to the Tory’s 29 per cent. And this despite the national polls putting the Conservatives ahead in the country as a whole.

Beyond London, the chances are the Tories will hoover up council seats aplenty and perhaps even win, for the first time, the seat of Hartlepool in a by-election.

But the man widely known as Sadiq No-Khan-Do will sail home.

Khan has extended the Congestion Charge across London and increased the cost despite promising not to do so during his previous election campaign

Khan has extended the Congestion Charge across London and increased the cost despite promising not to do so during his previous election campaign

Last Saturday, we were advised that Extinction Rebellion anarchists might appear in our garden near the river for a 'this land is our land' protest. The purpose of this invasion? They wished to distribute literature denouncing private ownership and so on. Why do they love London so much? Because Mayor Khan is a sympathiser, and has said so. He shares their 'passion'. (Above, an XR protest against the HS2 high-speed railway, in London in January)

Last Saturday, we were advised that Extinction Rebellion anarchists might appear in our garden near the river for a ‘this land is our land’ protest. The purpose of this invasion? They wished to distribute literature denouncing private ownership and so on. Why do they love London so much? Because Mayor Khan is a sympathiser, and has said so. He shares their ‘passion’. (Above, an XR protest against the HS2 high-speed railway, in London in January) 

This is partly, of course, because the Tories have run a lamentable campaign. Their inert candidate Shaun Bailey is even lagging behind Khan on law and order, according to one poll. Quite an achievement.

But crime is only the first count on the long record of failure Sadiq Khan has racked up since 2016.

Transport for London, the Khan-run agency responsible for London’s sclerotic bus, rail and road system is now running a deficit of almost £1 billion, because of Khan’s misconceived fare freezes, which cost a fortune.

TfL’s biggest project, Crossrail, has been delayed from a 2018 projected completion, to 2022 – with a cost over-run of more than £4 billion. So far.

Khan has extended the Congestion Charge across London and increased the cost despite promising not to do so during his previous election campaign.

The misfiring Mayor wants to introduce rent controls, another back-to-the-future policy, which has failed every time it has been tried. Rent controls are well known to be the best way to destroy a city – short of bombing it.

By way of distraction from his serial failures, Khan resorts to meddling in other policy areas that have nothing to do with his role as Mayor.

Remember when he wanted London to have a get-out-of-Brexit card, so it could, in effect, remain a quasi-member of the EU? Pathetic and futile in equal measure.

His latest big idea is to legalise cannabis. That was old hat when I was young, and I haven’t been young for decades.

Why then is such an obviously superficial chancer regarded as unbeatable? I’d love someone in authority in the Tory Party to give me the answer.

Meanwhile, I have more personal reasons for wishing rid of Mayor Khan.

Last Saturday, we were advised that Extinction Rebellion anarchists might appear in our garden near the river for a ‘this land is our land’ protest.

The purpose of this invasion? They wished to distribute literature denouncing private ownership and so on.

The misfiring Mayor wants to introduce rent controls, another back-to-the-future policy, which has failed every time it has been tried. Rent controls are well known to be the best way to destroy a city – short of bombing it

The misfiring Mayor wants to introduce rent controls, another back-to-the-future policy, which has failed every time it has been tried. Rent controls are well known to be the best way to destroy a city – short of bombing it

Just the latest XR nonsense in what has become their favourite city, London. Why do they love London so much? Because Mayor Khan is a sympathiser, and has said so. He shares their ‘passion’.

I don’t.

Khan does little or nothing to protect the citizens he supposedly serves, confining himself to a few sotto voce denunciations.

The police, taking their lead from their Crime Commissioner, are equally ineffective.

Then there are the road changes which have been introduced under the cover of Covid-19 – some of them illegal.

A jumble of ill-judged cycle lanes and unpopular car-free zones – not to mention bizarre bus stops in the middle of the road – is bringing London to a juddering halt.

It will take years to reverse all this, even if Londoners could bring themselves to elect a Mayor who actually wanted to do so.

London is a great business centre and needs to remain so more than ever in this confused post-pandemic, post-Brexit world.

But how can it do so, if people can’t get around?

London thrives on energy and entrepreneurism. Khan supplies neither of these, and is manifestly out of sympathy with all the dynamic that has made London such a success.

As I write this, I am looking through my window at the dull, grey office by Tower Bridge where our dull, grey Mayor hangs out.

But not for much longer. He’s having to move out further east, because his near-bankrupt administration can’t afford the upkeep of Ken Livingstone’s old palace.

Ken makes for an unsettling contrast with the current occupant, of course. Ken was Mayor in the days when there was actually some competition for the job.

A jumble of ill-judged cycle lanes and unpopular car-free zones – not to mention bizarre bus stops in the middle of the road – is bringing London to a juddering halt

A jumble of ill-judged cycle lanes and unpopular car-free zones – not to mention bizarre bus stops in the middle of the road – is bringing London to a juddering halt

I like and respect Ken, as it happens. I did a radio show with him for six years, and you got a different Ken then, just as you actually did in most of what he did in office.

Ken was a controversialist. The sayings of Red Ken became a national joy, offending and amusing millions. No one didn’t know who Ken was.

But Ken was also managerial. In fact, he loved that side of things and did it rather well. He wouldn’t let his political prejudices get in the way.

When public transport ogre Bob Crowe sadly died, Ken paid a rather eloquent tribute to his fellow Left-winger before concluding that ‘he never got any change out of me’.

Bob Crowe had little interest in an efficient, cost-effective public transport system, whereas Ken, whatever his political sympathies, most certainly did.

What does Khan want? Aside from power, who knows?

He will be remembered for just two things – passing the buck and getting next to nothing done.

Khan was a human-rights lawyer, of course. Most people despise lawyers, and lawyers themselves despise human-rights lawyers.

Yet that won’t prevent a second term in office.

Great cities have no automatic right to greatness, however loud they shout.

Cast an eye towards America and the catastrophe overwhelming Los Angeles. Or the grim decline of New York – another city with global pretentions that can’t mend its bridges.

It’s a dangerous state of affairs when London can become a one-party state so detached from the nation it supposedly serves.

And it’s an indictment of our politics that such a self-serving nonentity is bound to succeed with so little scrutiny.

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