David Lammy last night launched an all-out attack on mayoral rival Sadiq Khan, accusing him of dropping his long-term support for expanding Heathrow out of political convenience.
Lammy was the first MP to declare his interest in succeeding Boris Johnson next May but has been marginalised by media coverage which has increasingly portrayed Labour’s contest to select a candidate as a two-horse race between Khan and Dame Tessa Jowell.
The Tottenham MP used a hustings organised by the Centre for London and Prospect to challenge those perceptions and portray Khan as a man willing to “play politics” with major issues confronting the capital in order to boost his personal prospects.
Yesterday Khan told the Evening Standard that Heathrow, which wants to build a third runway, should be made “better but not bigger”.
Speaking at last night’s hustings, Khan said while he “accepted the argument” that London needed increased air capacity to support jobs and businesses, increases in noise and air pollution made Heathrow an unsuitable choice.
Lammy, who supports expansion subject to the creation of a new regulator with powers to minimise noise and air pollution, won a sustained round of applause after accusing Khan of resorting to “the same Ed Miliband politics that got us nowhere” by changing his position on the issue.
He told the audience: “Sadiq was for Heathrow expansion in 2008, he was for it when he was transport secretary in 2009, he was for it on the Sunday Politics just a few months ago. Zac Goldmsith’s announced he’s running and suddenly Sadiq is against it.”
Goldsmith, who last week confirmed he was standing to be selected as the Conservative mayoral hopeful, is a major opponent of expansion at Heathrow, a stance that could help him win the second preference votes of London’s Green voters in next may’s contest.