Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images for Concordia Summit

He Khan’t do anything wrong

The Mayor of London faces little accountability for problems in the city

Artillery Row

For weeks, London has been subjected to pro-Palestine “peace marches” — so peaceful, in fact, that footage emerged of a protester calling for “death to all Jews”. On 11 November, Tommy Robinson and his supporters turned up looking for a fight, and chaos ensued.

Naturally a post-mortem followed, led by the usual establishment suspects. Someone had to be blamed for the carnage, and who else but Suella Braverman, the now ousted Home Secretary. Humza Yousaf, the First Minister of Scotland, set the tone when he said that Braverman had “revelled in fanning the flames of division”. Yvette Cooper, the Home Secretary, claimed she had “deliberately inflamed tensions around Remembrance weekend”.

Khan has lost his scapegoat for the disintegration of the capital

Listening to Cooper, I couldn’t help thinking: hang on a minute, who’s in charge of London — the city whose destruction she’s so vexed by? The answer is the Labour Party, of course, and Sadiq Khan, the mayor. Braverman was no more to blame than His Royal Wokeness. As always, the chaotic scenes had nothing to do with him, and he was quick to stick the knife into her, posting: “The far-right have clearly been encouraged and emboldened by what they heard this week, including from senior politicians like the Home Secretary. I hope everyone takes the time to reflect on the impact their words and actions can have on others.” This, from the man who earlier this year claimed that those worried about ULEZ were in cahoots with the “Far Right”.

As some may already know, I think Khan is a terrible mayor. His ability to deflect and pass the buck is arguably something of genius, though. It is how he gets away with being such an inadequate and authoritarian leader. The politician he most reminds me of in bluffing mode is Tony Blair, even more so because they both have strong appeal with well-to-do Londoners. Think the types who might say “we’re saving children’s lungs” to justify ULEZ and think buying a nut roast for Christmas is a meaningful act in fighting climate change.

Whilst the then-Home Secretary has partial accountability in the events of London, tasked with managing “the functions of the Met that go beyond policing London — for example, counter-terrorism policing and the national policing functions that the Met carries out”, she was supposed to do this in conjunction with the Mayor of London. Moreover, the Mayor is charged with “setting the strategic direction of policing in London through the Police and Crime Plan” — hardly something Khan seems to be delivering on.

With Braverman now gone, Khan has lost his scapegoat for the disintegration of the capital. Perhaps that is why he is drawing people’s attention away to other activities, such as “Transgender Day of Remembrance”, which “marks a time when people pay tribute to the transgender people who have died as a result of transphobic violence”. Though Khan said it’s “vital that politicians work to unite rather than divide communities” following Braverman’s departure, his X feed often feels as though designed to troll the electorate, with replies usually turned off because of the level of public anger towards him.

Whatever happens next in London, one thing is for sure. The Establishment media — the ones who hold huge sway over which politicians are turfed out or not — aren’t going to blame Khan. Ironically, their position draws into question what the point there is in having a mayor at all. It cannot be that when things go well, Khan has succeeded, but when they haven’t, the Government is responsible. The extent to which the latter’s hands are tied was clear this week when protestors stood outside Downing Street, and ministers simply had to watch things unfold. Having handed over power of the Capital to someone daft, dangerous and moralistic, they will have to watch even more turmoil roll out over the coming weeks. Then when it comes to the blame game, they will find he Khan’t do anything wrong.

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