This is Khan’s triumph – but Labour must be more than the London party

by Jonathan Todd

Keir Hardie in Merthyr Tydfil and Richard Bell in Derby were Labour’s first MPs. The Jarrow March arrived in London 36 years later. Another 45 years on and the first People’s March for Jobs arrived in the capital from Liverpool.

Historically, London has been the epicentre of the forces that frustrate Labour. Now, however, London is Labour’s citadel.

Third place in Scotland. Losing to Plaid in Rhondda. Far short of the gains of 400 council seats that the likes of Chris Leslie put down as a benchmark. But Labour is set to return to City Hall in London.

This is Sadiq Khan’s triumph. Elections are x-rays. Zac Goldsmith’s revealed that his heart wasn’t really in it and he was prepared to acquiesce with demeaning nastiness. He might be as posh as Boris Johnson but he lacks his restless hunger to seize power by imposing his personality on events.

Khan does not. His x-ray found all political functionalities in full working order. He wasn’t expected to beat Tessa Jowell to the Labour nomination. He has seen Jeremy Corbyn as sufficiently unhelpful that he distanced himself from the leader during the campaign. None of this stopped Khan, a whirl of dynamic energy.

You might have heard that he is a Muslim. If you’ve really been paying attention, you’ll know that his dad was a bus driver. The back story is now ubiquitous. We should not, though, become glib about its significance.

Khan’s win – and it does feel to me a gain in which the seal of the candidate is particularly sharply embossed – is a victory for London’s openness, tolerance and decency. Bravo.

But Labour must be more than this. We need a 650 seat strategy. To deliver openness, tolerance and decency across the UK.

Brexit would knock all this spectacularly backwards. The EU referendum provides an opportunity for Labour to unite and campaign with the verve that Khan has personified.

I’m confident that London will vote Remain. But Labour must make ourselves heard beyond London. Our membership and campaigning capacity is skewed toward the capital, and while these have helped secure Khan’s success, Labour must be more than the London party.

Jonathan Todd is Deputy Editor of Labour Uncut    

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14 Responses to “This is Khan’s triumph – but Labour must be more than the London party”

  1. Disenfranchised says:

    Labour is not the “party of London” – it is the party of Islam; the white working class are gone, and Labour have nothing to offer them.

    As long as the numbers stack up – students, ethnics, public services – Labour are in with a chance. But the old relationship – working class/Labour/Trade Union – is dead.

  2. Martin Haigh says:

    Corbyn’s “we hung on” comment reveals the us-against-the-world mentality of the inveterate left-wing campaigner. There is no room in his worldview for a 650-seat strategy, he doesn’t regard it as possible or even desirable.

  3. Mike Homfray says:

    Thing is that London does have a very different profile in all sorts of ways.

    We do need to square the circle of the Ukip vote. Some of it may be out of range as we are not going to advocate a stop to all immigration or leaving the EU.

    But some of it is more a recognition of dissatisfaction with existing poitics in practice

  4. Mark says:

    This site is a bit Tory-lite.

  5. Tafia says:

    Mark says: This site is a bit Tory-lite.

    largely because the contributors are middle class New Labourites who cannot and never will understand that Labour is supposed to be exactly that – Labour. and called Labour for a reason and uses red for a reason.

  6. Anne says:

    I find Mark and Tafia comments very rude. Name calling is certainly not helpful. It certainly demonstrates a lack of understanding of modern day politics – nothing remains the same – political parties must adapt to the needs of current issues. For example there is a growing number of people working from home and are self employed – many have small businesses – they are not making a fortune but Labour is not attracting these people to vote for them – Labour must be more aspirational. Khan is quite right in saying we need a bigger tent. Please do not insult people it is not very attractive.

  7. steve cook says:

    regarding anne’s comment…. I find your comment patronising arrogant agenda driven and dismissive .
    you sound like a London resident and you sound upper middle class and you sound like someone who doesn’t have any grasp of reality . you sound anti-democratic and you sound like someone who despises the poor and freedom of speech -someone who would send their kids to a better school-just as hypocrite liar and racist Dianne abbot did .
    let me put it like this-why wouldn’t you want any party and specifically the labour to be as inclusive as possible? why wouldn’t you want the labour party to prioritise the poorest half of the electorate above the richer half-that’s egalitarian isn’t it ? why would you not want the labour party to listen care and respond to opinion? this would maximise their electoral prospects and be democratic .
    if you agree with those things then I can assure you the working class of which I am one wants to leave the elitist anti-democratic European union-which hurts the poorest the most.
    the majority of the uk want immigration reduced- around 60-80% with about 50-60% wanting it radically reduced-they are approximate as there are thousands of graphs which show a range -but I think they are fair figures. and mass immigration -especially without any priority for skills is most harmful to the poor-infact most people [78-80% ?] have no degree level qualification and the people without a degree are opposed to mass immigration and are hurt the most by it and those with a degree or higher are broadly indifferent or slightly pro mass immigration -so do you care about the poorest half of the country ? do you care about the majority of the country and democracy ?
    London itself is a joke and hated and evil in my opinion-it is crushing and torturing the rest of the uk and the rest of the uk have no way to prevent this-as the 2 ruling parties are both pro-London. this harms undemocratically the 85 % of the country who do not live in London its an anti democratic bias which cannot be overcome because of the corrupt nature of the 2 ruling elitist parties who conspire to elevate London to being a special case that always trumps egalitarian and democratic and pragmatic or fair issues-it is overwhelming how London profits at the countries expense-road rail theatres buses hospitals tourism airports and the London weighting bias.
    the list is endless and shows with per pupil funding just how advantaged Londoners and London is over the rest of the uk-with around 3 times my counties pupil funding-the lowest in the country in cambs-which has always been the lowest paid and currently also has all the largest constituencies in the uk-cambs is a prime victim -with near zero infrastructure spending and no amenities or services .
    the a1 at st.neots is the original a1 and improved north of cambs and south of cambs but not in the middle -likewise the a428 is 50 years overdue in its repeteadly promised upgrade-again it is the original road from pre 1960.
    st.neots a town of 40 000 and planned to be over 60 000 by 2026-in ten years doesn’t even have a location for 2 buses to stop at the same time or for one bus to park for an hour- we give up every thing and have the worst figures for everything nationally and why? to provide London with 95% of museums and theatres and venues for opera and ballet and other elitist evil nonsense -to expensive to attend for the London millionaires without the poor subsidising their tickets . London with the m25 and inner ring road and heathrow and the new heathrow tube line and crossrail 1 and crossrail 2 and the euro train link and the underground network unique to London -just like the unique London weighting bias .
    so I just took a test -I stumbled on it looking for another site-are you working class ? I took it for some reason and did it twice incase -but no need as I came out as traditional working class both times-unlike almost all the labour party-the London labour party or this sites contributors and members .
    I voted labour all my life and saw the party as working class -but that is ancient history-it has been full of London centric champagne socialists for 25 years now-nothing about labour benefits the working class-the working class are about 70% of the country including the poor and they are 70% white and English and only a few percent of them live in london-this is not reflected in parliament or the bbc or this website or the labour party or any activist groups of any sort in national politics.
    I will never vote labour again until they begin listening to the 80% of the country who they hate and victimise in all their attitudes and policies.
    you must be aware anne that say half the labour voters are reluctant and angry or fearful or at best unthinking and tribal -so half or more of labour voters would vote for someone else if there was a choice -often there is not. many vote even though they hate the labour party-but they feel they have no choice -others are simply loyal or tribal and so the real support for the champagne socialist London centric party who hates the poor and working class and democracy -is about 10% at best-nearly all of these voters are black or Asian or live in London or are millionaires-like Londoners or privileged middle class or unemployed .
    I am on disabled benefits and I campaigned for disabled rights for the last 15 years-so I am not anti unemployed or anti benefits-and I am and always have been an atheist and republican and I hate nationalism-I used to campaign for the plo and muslims and blacks and was anti racist and even read the wrp and so I am not what you types like to think-a small minded little Englander -out of time prejudiced racist type-I know no one in st.neots who thinks differently from me-I personally know no one who does-I can take you round or we can sit outside my house and ask everyone we meet-all or nearly all will say as I say -people hate foreign aid-they hate no immigration controls and they hate the Barnett formula and they no the labour party is rude arrogant cold hearted corrupt uncaring and anti poor and anti democratic- you only support measures that are hugely unpopular and hurtful to the poor -if only most of the country were posh and rich and pro immigration and pro London bias and pro foreign aid and pro Barnett formula -sadly for all of you-the white working class of which I am one -is still the majority of the country-so you will never be supported by the poor and never by a majority-you may hope cynically to get into power one day by lying and by doing an evil deal with snp and by creeping across a line and pipping the tory party by 1 or 2 % -so with lies and snp traitorist deal and maybe 35 % of votes cast you may dream of this-maybe 33 or 31 % is the best you can achieve or dream of ? and you think that’s rational? fair ? logical? pragmatic? caring? democratic?

    the labour party is more destructive to the poor and working class than even the libs or greens or tories or ukip-that is how bad it is now-and I am sure every year even more old labour voters either vote for an alternative like ukip or simply refuse to vote-so the figure will continue to drop for generations -I think the labour party may be the 3rd or 4th party by 2050 -I don’t say any of this with glee-but while owen jones and Dianne abbot and caroline flint and Yvette cooper and Emily Thornberry remain as spokespeople for labour -I consider the party to be stupid cruel hate-fuelled arrogant middle class anti democratic and corrupt in every way possible-from being full of paedophiles -cash for questions-war mongers and sharia muslim protectors .

  8. steve cook says:

    ps….. such a shame from my personal selfish point of view-that the 2 best things about corbyn have been secretly threatened blackmailed or bribed out of him-I hoped he might have principles-like when he was reluctant to sing the anthem and kneel to the queen and wear a tie-all things I support .
    sadly though the evil monsters of the party managed to stop this once principled and honest guy from maintaining his integrity by persuading the cnd and anti-eu campaigner to claim he is now pro trident and pro eu membership.
    secrecy prejudice privilege hypocrisy are the methods and destruction of working class representation and destruction of democracy and destruction of freedom of speech are the goals.
    the tv makes residents of the uk think we are living in a parallel universe but even worse the labour party make it appear like a parallel universe within a parallel universe.
    I suggest someone in the labour party goes and buys a map and shows the others how to use it and counts people and then asks for opinions of the people it counted and then formulates a strategy for winning an election based on democracy and appeal and focussed on egalitarian values and transparency and accountability and aimed at helping the poorest half of the electorate above and before the richer half.

    there is a vast poor country outside London -yes its true …. and it is full of almost all the population who are almost all working class and poor and white …..

    this formula would work and be logical and be fair-but you will have to walk before you can run ……so firstly go and buy a map .

  9. Tafia says:

    Anne I couldn’t care less. There isn’t a single person on earth that I am in the slightest bothered about what they think of I say think or do. Labour is dying because it is not meeting the needs of what should be it’s core vote. It isn’t peddling the right message. It’s dying because it deserves to pure and simple. You cannot meet the aspirations of your traditional core vote (nearly all of whom earn less than 20K without alienating the urban trendies that you are obssessed with and you cannot in turn meet their aspirations without alienating the traditional core (who in the main couldn’t give a toss about the EU, Trident, Syrian refugees. Putin or most of the other rubbish the political elite are burbling about these days).

    Khan is talking out of his arse. If he believes so much all he has to do is go to the valleys and explain to the people there why it’s such a good idea that they have been laid off and replaced with cheaper east european imported workers. I’m sure they’ll listen. Or go to north east Wales. Or go to Scotland (ROFL).

    If you move back to the New Labour style, you will alienate your core even faster. The days of ‘I vote Labour, my kids vote Labour, my dog votes Labour and my granny votes Labour – and she’s been dead ten years’ are over and good riddance.

    Unless Labour promises some way of bringing private rents down, not only stopping house price inflation but reversing it, embarking on a massive council house building programme, ending semi-skilled and unskilled workers having to compete with foreign nationals for housing, school places and jobs then there isn’t actually any need for Labour because you won’t actually be offering an alternative that your traditional core vote wants. If you don’t give them what they want, they’ll vote elsewhere and quite right to.

    When I left school in the 1970’s there were loads of jobs and money was good. When I was a corporal in the Infantry in the early 1980s I bought a house. I was 24 years old, married with two kids. My wife didn’t work and I didn’t qualify for any form of in work benefit (FIS I think it was called back then). I bought the house easily, the payments were absolutely no problem, there was lots of housing available and so long as you had 10% deposit, had saved with the building society for more than 2 years and were in work then getting a house was no problem. If you haven’t got a plan to bring that sort of employment level back (along with the wage levels) and a plan to bring back those sort of housing levels and general affordability then you are superfluous and all you really need is a vet to administer the injection.

    And don’t blame globalisation or our EU obligations – that is shirking responsibility and defeatism.

  10. tim says:

    @ Steve Cook. Wow. Fantastic post. My only fear is that the Labour party picks up on it and pretends to address the issues that you mention without having any real desire to solve them. Just to sound like they’re going to in order to pick up votes.

    I look at things from a 30 year+ perspective, and I find it harder to believe in coincidences now that I do this. What I see is a country that is united in it’s disgust of politicians, at the corruption and waste on all sides, which the expenses scandal briefly brought to the surface.

    But that is all forgotten as there is a new bogeyman that has been sent in by politicians to divide us-immigration. Without immigration, what would we be concentrating on? Would it be corruption, tax dodging, the revolving door between politics/the civil service and private companies? Would we be looking at the anti-democratic EU (thanks Tony Benn and your 5 awkward questions to ask those in power), the same corrupt Westminster bubble and our corrupt MPs? We would be demanding wholescale change, and I believe that the two main parties would be finding it hard to survive thanks to their endemic corruption and wastefulness.

    But instead, we find ourselves split and divided on a party lines, just how they want us to be, on an issue that has been entirely enacted, from start to finish, by the same political establishment.
    Sure, it’s just a coincidence isn’t it. Amazing how these coincidences keep cropping up in politics, a bit like countries who reply on cheap European labour (both imported into the UK or who have moved industry out of the UK) saying that leaving the EU would be a disaster. Totally unrelated.

  11. tim says:

    @ Tafia
    Using your example regarding leaving school in the 70s etc, the one thing that unifies your observations and what has been happening is the existence of the fractional reserve system. This was introduced once the USA withdrew from the gold standard which ensured it’s collapse. The new system allowed banks to create money out of thin air (the fractional reserve system) and to lend it to make a profit. This leads to a variety of factors:
    1) Constant inflation as this creation of credit, with no backing (unlike when debt previously had to be backed by a certain amount of gold) means that the money in your pocket is worth less every year.

    2) Asset capture. When you go into debt, you have to secure it against an asset. This is the ‘long game.’ If you default, or if a lender is uncomfortable lending to you due to your debt levels, it can either seize your property or demand that you give part of it to them in order for them to keep lending. Use this last point (“give part of it to them to get them to carry on lending”) when looking at why state owned industries have been privatised. Look at Greece and what it is selling to it’s creditors in order to keep getting loans.

    3) The ability to borrow money cheaply/for nothing as they are the creators of credit. Whilst the man on the street can only get their hands on this money at a higher rate of interest. E.g. can you get a loan for 0.5%? Nope. Can banks/lenders? Yep. So the game is rigged against us all. is a good place to get a simple explanation of all this if you’re interested.

    I despair of modern politics as no-one discussed this framework which we operate within. As such, all so called ‘fixes’ will never work as it does not recognise the fundamental reality of the situation e.g. JC wants to borrow more to fund infrastructure projects. One more way for the borrowers to gain control of your assets.

  12. Anne says:

    Steve Cook- All our assumptions are wrong.

  13. Anne says:

    To Steve Cook – all of your assumptions are incorrect.

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