At yesterday’s first Mayor’s Question Time under the new regime of Sadiq Khan, he got off to a less than stellar start by breaking six key election pledges in just two hours.
The Mayor of London was challenged by Assembly Members on several pledges made in his election manifesto and throughout his campaign. But when asked to confirm or clarify key policies on housing, transport, policing and the green belt, the Mayor was forced to row back.
The Mayor has been in office for less than three weeks and already his election pledges seem to be dropping like flies.
The first casualty was housing. Sadiq Khan pledged on his campaign website to “support housing associations in their plans to ensure a minimum of 80,000 new homes a year”. Yesterday he said he was not going to give any commitment on housing numbers.
Second was the promise of no strikes on the Tube. Back in February Khan promised: “As mayor what I’d do is roll up my sleeves and make sure that I’m talking to everyone who runs public transport to make sure there are zero days of strikes.”
In light of the announcement that the RMT are to strike, when asked at MQT “if he wished to withdraw that commitment to Londoners?” In response, Sadiq Khan changed his promise to an “aspiration”.
After making a bold statement prior to taking office that the Commissioner of the Met was on “probation”, he then walked that back under scrutiny. Yesterday he said that he isn’t, and acknowledged he had no power to change the Commissioner.
In addition to his backtracking on the Commissioner he has now stated he will not as promised return to the 1:2:3 local neighbourhood policing model.
He topped off his list of early broken pledges by failing to commit to protecting the green belt from development, abdicating his responsibility by saying he will not “micro-manage” on the issue.
Any new Mayor has to find their feet in the role, and Sadiq Khan should be given the opportunity to prove himself.
That said, the abandoning of so many key promises so early in his administration does not bode well for the future.
The author is a Conservative member of the London Assembly and represents the Bexley & Bromley constituency.