Sadiq Khan says he is facing 'toughest election yet' while warning of 900,000 'silenced Londoners'

Sadiq Khan said the next mayoral election will be "the toughest yet" in a speech on Thursday (PA Wire)
Sadiq Khan said the next mayoral election will be "the toughest yet" in a speech on Thursday (PA Wire)

Sadiq Khan has urged Londoners to grant him an historic third term as mayor in 2024, while claiming that 900,000 people “could be silenced” due to voter ID requirements.

The Labour mayor promised in a speech on Thursday that “a new era of renewal is within reach”, arguing that by working with Sir Keir Starmer as Britain’s potential next prime minister, he will no longer be “held back”.

Mr Khan was speaking at the Centre of London think tank’s annual conference, at which researchers warned that the city is struggling with several affordability and productivity crises.

The mayor said: “I’m under no doubt, this election will be the toughest yet.

“Not only will it be the first in London using the First Past The Post system, but also every Londoner will be forced to show photo ID to take part.”

The requirement for voters to have a photo ID was introduced through the Elections Act 2022, and was used for the first time in the local elections in May this year - which took place outside of London.

Mr Khan added: “Let’s just call this what it is: a cynical attempt to make it harder for people to vote. All told, 900,000 Londoners could be silenced.

“To everyone here, I ask you: use your voice to ensure no one else is denied theirs, because democracy belongs to us all.”

The mayor’s figure is derived from Labour-commissioned Opinium polling which found that 15 per cent of Londoners do not have voter ID. A total of about six million Londoners were on the electoral register as of December last year.

The polling found that among 18 to 34 year-olds, the percentage without voter ID rises to 20 per cent, while reducing to 12 per cent among 35 to 49-year-olds, 13 per cent among 50 to 64-year-olds and 10 per cent among those aged 65 and over.

When Mr Khan voiced concerns about the same poll findings in October, a Government spokesperson said: “These claims are untrue.

“The vast majority of voters in the polling station – 99.75 per cent – cast their vote successfully at the local elections in England in May.”

The Electoral Commission believes that the 0.25 per cent of voters who were unable to vote due to lack of ID is an underestimate. They said this is partly due to data quality issues but also because some people will have been reminded of the ID requirement before they could be recorded in the data.

Conservative mayoral candidate Susan Hall, along with Green candidate Zoë Garbett and Liberal Democrat candidate Rob Blackie, also contributed to the conference. Ms Hall was unable to attend in person due to a London Assembly meeting held at the same time.

In his promise to voters of a “new era of renewal”, Mr Khan claimed that everything achieved during his mayoralty had “been in spite of [the] national Government holding us back”.

He pointed to Ken Livingstone’s second term in office, between 2004 and 2008 - the only period in which there has been both a Labour mayor and a Labour prime minister. Mr Livingstone was an independent mayor in his first term.

Mr Khan told the conference: “Those four years were a time when the Olympics were secured, Crossrail [now the Elizabeth line] was agreed, and 8,000 social homes were built in one year alone.

“Now a new era of renewal is within reach. 2024 offers two elections. But only one compelling vision: the chance of a Labour prime minister working in unison with a Labour mayor, for the benefit of all.”

A poll conducted by Redfield and Wilton Strategies and published in the Times in September showed Mr Khan winning just 33 per cent of the vote, with his Tory rival Ms Hall close behind on 32 per cent.

The survey of 1,100 London voters also showed that if Jeremy Corbyn decides to run as an independent, it could cause Mr Khan to lose to Ms Hall, with her winning 30 per cent and the current mayor taking 25 per cent. The former Labour leader would win 15 per cent.

During Ms Hall’s pre-recorded interview with the Centre for London’s chief executive, Antonia Jennings, the Tory candidate attacked Mr Khan’s time in office, saying that he has presided over a crisis in the police service, among other issues.

“He’s very good at putting responsibility onto anybody else,” said Ms Hall. “But he’s in charge of the Metropolitan Police, he’s got the budgets for housing, and of course he’s in charge of TfL [Transport for London].

“If you go into outer London, the one thing people all complain about is the extended Ulez [Ultra low emission zone] and one of my main priorities is on day one, the Ulez expansion would be stopped.”

During the conference, researchers warned that young families are being hollowed out from inner London due to high housing costs, while productivity in the capital has been effectively “flatlining” since 2007.

Green mayoral candidate Zoë Garbett said: “There’s definitely a lot that can be done by the Mayor of London within the roles and responsibilities of that post, but the Government has a huge responsibility, particularly around housing.

“I think that’s what London needs - it needs a mayor that’s really going to stand up to the Government and call for what London needs… I think that housing is the number one challenge.”

Lib Dem mayoral candidate Rob Blackie said that both the mayor and Government had roles to play in fixing London’s biggest issues.

He said: “Brexit has been a disaster. It’s a bad idea, badly implemented. That has been very damaging to London’s economy… [It’s] a really good example where [the] national Government has made a big problem.

“But I think the mayor has completely taken his eye off the ball on crime. We can see conviction rates fall. [Convictions for] serious crimes like sexual offences and rapes have plummeted in the last seven years - and many crime problems have got worse. That is something that the mayor is in charge of.”