Will it be City Hall for Susan, or Khan he score a hat trick?

16 Apr 24

Whilst some might consider ‘sticking with what you know’ – it does give consistency to the role and enables policies and political ambitions to bed-in, often a criticism of short terms in office be that at a Mayoral or national levelKhan’s longevity could also work against him.

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Whilst we might have to wait until October for the drama of a general election (latest predictions give the Conservative party a 1% chance) – the London Mayoral election on May 2nd is likely to be a much closer-run contest.  

Or at least that’s what incumbent Mayor Sadiq Khan is anticipating, despite being well ahead of Conservative candidate Susan Hall in the polls. Khan is not complacent, campaigning heavily for Londoners to back him in two weeks’ time. If he succeeds, Khan will be the first politician to ever hold the position for three consecutive terms.  

Susan Hall was, until recently, leader of the London Assembly Conservatives and is a supporter of previous Mayor, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Donald Trump. The former Leader of the London Borough of Harrow, she has promised to address the housing crisis by “building a lot more homes in the right places”, stopping inappropriate tower blocks and building family homes. How this is reconciled with her ambition to make it “easier to build the family homes that Londoners want…building enough homes to meet demand” and “unblocking the barriers that stop the development of family homes on public brown field sites” remains to be seen.  

Khan, meanwhile, has pledged to continue “the greatest council housebuilding in a generation” with 40,000 new social homes completed by 2023 including 6,000 rent-controlled homes for key workers. He will however be faced with the challenge of the new first-past-the-post voting system. Perhaps this is why Khan’s campaign has focused on his first name hoping for some familiarity with the electorate – his election material asking voters to trust in Sadiq once again.  

Whilst some might consider ‘sticking with what you know’ – it does give consistency to the role and enables policies and political ambitions to bed-in, often a criticism of short terms in office be that at a Mayoral or national level – Khan’s longevity could also work against him. Voters could feel restless after an 8-year tenure and the introduction of ULEZ certainly ignited some animosity, especially in the typically Conservative-led outer London boroughs.  

Besides Khan and Hall, there are 11 other candidates including the Green Party’s Zoe Garbett, a local councillor in Dalston, Rob Blackie of the Liberal Democrats and who previously stood for the London Assembly and Howard Cox of the Reform Party.

Whoever succeeds in the Mayoral elections may find their powers diluted if the latest Government proposals which seek to reduce the number of planning applications referred to the Mayor are introduced. One suspects this might be put on the back-burner if City Hall is occupied by a Conservative Mayor, and indeed it might accelerate if Khan returns.  

But all this may be short-lived. If Khan remains London’s Mayor and Labour win the general election later this year, it will be the first time since Ken Livingstone was at the helm in City Hall in 2004 (as a Labour Mayor) that Labour have held both seats which could be very significant for London. Indeed, it will be quite significant too if Susan Hall gains control and the Conservatives remain in Government. It will be the first time since Boris Johnson last held the position in 2012-2016 that they will have secured control nationally and in London. But for now, the tensions between London’s City Hall and Whitehall remain.