Sadiq KhanMayor of LondonThursday 31 May 2018 2:31 pm
Two years ago – after my main opponent ran one of the most negative and divisive political campaigns ever – I was elected as Mayor of London.
Londoners chose hope over fear, and unity over division. It was a day I will never forget – not because of what it meant for me personally, but because of what it said about our brilliant capital city, about our values and about our vision for a brighter future.
Two years on, and halfway through this Mayoral term, I still wake up every morning deeply humbled to serve as Mayor of the greatest city in the world.
Nothing can prepare you for a job like this. And the last 24 months have brought some extraordinarily difficult times no one could have predicted, including the Croydon tram crash, the tragic Grenfell Tower fire and a series of cowardly terrorist attacks on our city.
Yet throughout this period, I am proud that we have stood united behind our values in the face of huge challenges and horrific attacks.
This weekend is the anniversary of the London Bridge and Borough Market attacks by three cowardly terrorists. This is a time to remember the victims and to send our best wishes and prayers to the victims families. But its also a time for us to stay resolute in our determination not to be divided, and in our mission to make London a safer, fairer, more inclusive city.
My top priority will always be the safety of Londoners, and one of the biggest issues we are grappling with is the rise in violent crime – such as knife and gun crime – across the country. In London, the police service is overstretched, under-resourced and facing unprecedented cuts from the Government. But I am working with the Met to do everything possible to tackle this terrible scourge.
We are tackling violent crime, targeting criminals and removing weapons from the streets. As part of this, we are significantly increasing the use of targeted stop and search by the police. When based on real intelligence, geographically focused and performed professionally, this is a vital tool for the police to get weapons of the streets and to keep our communities safe.
Since I became Mayor, we have had the biggest roll-out of Body Worn Cameras in the world. This is a huge step forward in bringing our capitals police force into the 21st century and will give Londoners more confidence in our police.
As well as being tough on violent crime, we also need to be tough on the causes of violent crime. Thats why – while we cant replace all the money central government has cut from preventative services, like youth services and after school clubs – we are investing record sums from City Hall to help provide an alternative path for young Londoners away from a life of crime.
Throughout my campaign, I promised to be a Mayor for all Londoners. And two years on I remain firmly committed to doing everything in my power to give everyone the opportunities to get on in life that London gave to me and my family. There is still much more to do to achieve this goal, but we have already made great progress – more than was thought possible just two years ago.
Take housing. Theres no question that we still have a major housing crisis in London, but for the first time in decades we are taking big steps to turn things around.
I know the difference that having a genuinely affordable home can make because it is the story of my life. That is why I am so proud that last year we built more genuinely affordable homes than in any year since City Hall took control of housing, including more social homes in one year than in the previous four put together. It always takes time to turn a tanker around, but I am optimistic that we can now keep it heading in the right direction.
Transport is also a cornerstone of my vision for a fairer, healthier and more prosperous city, and City Hall has made great progress in this area too.
The cost of traveling in London rocketed by more than 42% between 2008 and 2016. We have put an end to year-on-year price rises and have made transport more affordable for millions of Londoners by freezing all Transport for London fares for four years and introducing the Hopper bus fare, which gives you unlimited bus travel within an hour. We have also got the Night Tube and Night Overground up and running, which has brought huge benefits for Londoners.
Other examples of real progress in London over the last two years include: implementing the most ambitious plans to tackle air pollution anywhere in the world; putting more neighbourhood police officers on the streets; and giving Londoners more of a say over how our areas are regenerated.
I feel proud of what we have already achieved, but I am still impatient to deliver the change we need.
I still wake up every day wanting to go further and determined to ensure we are not pushed backwards by regressive forces that are gaining strength across the globe.
In London, the reforms we are delivering are about making our city a fairer, more inclusive and more equal place. But this is in stark contrast to the world around us, which is becoming increasingly polarised and extreme, with the politics of blame and recrimination seeping into our national debates.
The changing nature of our economy over many decades has left too many people feeling left behind by globalisation. For nearly a decade, we have also suffered from having the most anti-London government in living memory and relentless austerity. This has compounded the problem and is inflicting irreparable damage on our communities and causing poverty, inequality and rising crime.
Too often, people are now looking for someone – often the other to blame for their own situation. Sadly, some political parties try to capitalise on this by playing on peoples fears, rather than addressing them. UKIP might be almost dead as a party, but the truth is their kind of politics is still very much alive and kicking.
In London, we must not be dragged down by this negative downward spiral that only leads to anger, division and discrimination. This is a key reason why I opposed us turning our backs on our European neighbours and why I am fighting for a Brexit that protects jobs and investment.
We all want our children to live in a city that is not weakened by inequality and division, but strengthened by fairness and unity. As well as the heartache, the Grenfell fire tragedy shone a light on the stark inequalities that still exist in our country – one of the richest in the world. It demonstrated how much more we have to do and how there are still some fundamental changes we need to make to the way we, as a society, act.
So now is not the time to dispense with our open values and the progress we have already made. Now is the time to push ahead – to stand up and speak out for the values of our capital; to come together and integrate; to continue our relentless fight against violent crime and the causes of crime; to ensure all Londoners can fulfil their potential; and to build a London that works for us all.
This is my mission for the next two years and beyond.