With the election a few weeks away it looks like Labour’s Sadiq Khan will be the next Mayor of London. However, as last year’s General Election proved, nothing should be taken for granted.
London will have a new Mayor on 6th May. Whether that is Zac Goldsmith or Sadiq Khan, the political landscape of the capital going forward is likely to be very different to the last eight years under Boris Johnson. Both candidates have acknowledged the need to address the growing shortage of housing in the capital. Both recognise the need to promote an alternative form of housing tenure and have been talking up PRS. However neither is likely to be as unashamedly pro-development as Mr Johnson and so developers will no longer be able to rely on Mayoral call-in as a way of by-passing punctilious local authorities. If Mr Khan is elected, he is more likely to use the Mayor’s call-in power to halt developments that do not deliver a sufficient quantum of affordable housing.
At the moment, the election appears to be Mr Khan’s to lose, with bookies giving him an 88% chance of victory. Mr Khan’s campaign has led on housing and transport and includes pledges to build 80,000 new homes a year (with a target of 50% being “genuinely affordable”) and to freeze TfL transport fares for four years.
Mr Goldsmith’s campaign has been surprisingly underwhelming with a broadly negative focus on Sadiq Khan’s links to Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn. While this strategy has proved unsuccessful so far, it is worth remembering that this very same “Project Fear” strategy worked wonders for the Conservatives in 2015 while confounding nearly every pollster and pundit. Though increasingly unlikely, it may be that the Conservatives can pull off a similar upset this time.