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Westlake Legal Group > Sadiq Khan (Mayor)

Shaun Bailey: Rent “controls” will make a bad situation worse. It’s time to build.

Shaun Bailey is a member of the London Assembly and the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London

Don’t be fooled.

That’s my message to people who will read about Sadiq Khan’s rent policy – expected to be unveiled this week – and be tempted by it.

Because, on the surface, it sounds good, doesn’t it? Most of us living in London are feeling the squeeze and could use some relief.

But here’s the thing: the Mayor can’t actually deliver his policy. He even admitted so in 2016:

“I have no plans to introduce rent controls, nor the powers to do so.”

And we should be glad for that, because rent controls don’t work. They’re false hope peddled by politicians who don’t want do the hard work of building the homes that Londoners, especially young people, desperately need.

Now, if the criticism were simply that rent controls are ineffective, it would be one thing. But they will actually take our bad situation and make it worse. There’s a reason economist and housing expert Assar Lindbeck once called rent controls “the most effective technique presently known to destroy a city – except for bombing”. Even noted inequality expert Angus Deaton thinks they’re bad news.

And while it’s true a fraction of those already in private rental accommodation do see some benefit, over the longer term, private landlords are driven out of the market – reducing supply – while those who remain put less investment into their properties, lowering the quality of the flats on offer. Does London really want to be a place, like New York, where people scour the obituaries hoping to find a rent-controlled flat?

If rent controls don’t work, why is a smart man like Khan choosing to front them?

The three answers are: failure, popularity, and cynicism.

No matter how much Khan tries to spin his success in building homes – his ‘first priority’ when campaigning in 2016 – by any metric, his record is one of failure. The Mayor was granted almost £5 billion to build 116,000 affordable homes by 2022. Now halfway through the programme, City Hall has only started 34,515 homes in the past three years, which is just under 30 per cent of his target.

And then there’s popularity.

The Mayor is now, according to polling, done for City Hall, at his lowest levels of popularity since his election. And funnily enough, the same polling that showed his approval rating slipping into the negatives is the polling that showed rent controls are very popular, with 68 per cent of Londoners saying they would welcome them. Not that Londoners were told the true story of rent controls’ ineffectiveness around the world before they were asked the question, of course.

Which brings us to the Mayor’s cynicism.

Despite acknowledging that he doesn’t have the power to act, the 2019 edition of Khan is now promising the undeliverable.

What’s changed?

Well, other than now having a poor record to defend amidst lower levels of popularity, the Mayor has also developed a well-worn and deeply cynical strategy: blame central government for everything. The Mayor now wants to use rent controls – or rather, the lack of them – to pick yet another fight with the Conservative government.

Indeed, picking a fight instead of getting on with the job has been Sadiq Khan’s only tactic as Mayor, whether on policing, on transport, on the environment, and now on housing. His hands are somehow always tied. “Vote for me, I can’t do anything” is now the official Khan line.

Instead of rooting through his £18 billion budget to cut waste and fund more police – as I did, finding £83 million to fund nearly 2,000 officers – or cancelling his short-sighted fares policy to free up more money for Transport for London, this Mayor would rather take the easy route of slating his political opponents in the hopes that voters won’t notice his poor record.

But a scrap over rent controls would be Khan’s most cynical ploy yet. Not only does he want a barney, he wants one in order to have the powers that would actually make Londoners worse off.

If London is going to remain open – and it should – then the only solution to rising rents and high house prices is to build more homes.

Helping renters should also be a part of a Mayor’s plans, but it should be done through extending tenancies and getting tough with rogue landlords, not driving them out of the business or dissuading new builds with bad policy.

But if all of this feels a bit too academic, or counterintuitive, think of rent controls this way:

If you were sick and went to a doctor who promised you a medicine he didn’t have that would make you worse if you managed to take it, would you trust that doctor? Of course you wouldn’t.

So don’t fall for more of Sadiq Khan lies.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Gareth Bacon: Khan see motorists as a cash-cow – and one he intends to milk for all it is worth

Gareth Bacon is the Leader of the Conservative Group on the London Assembly.

The evidence increasingly suggests that Sadiq Khan is considering the introduction of a London-wide pay as you drive road charge to fix the damage he’s done to Transport for London’s finances. Today I have published the report Highway Robbery: The Case Against Road Pricing in London, which lays out why it is clear that the current Mayor might want to introduce road pricing to London and explains why this would be a huge mistake for London.

During Khan’s mayoralty, TfL’s operational deficit has soared – although short-term cuts helped to avoid it reaching £1 billion last year, it is expected to top £897 million this year – and its debt has climbed to an eye-watering £11 billion. In TfL’s Business Plan Crossrail was meant to be its saviour, with the Mayor putting all his eggs in the basket marked ‘Crossrail will open on time and on budget’, but its delay will cost around £1 billion in lost fares revenue, on top of a whopping £2.8 billion extra to get it built.

This has had a hugely damaging impact on London’s transport network. Over the past three years, Londoners have seen vital Tube upgrades delayed, station improvements put on hold and pro-active road maintenance has been cancelled. The Mayor has even had to cancel his Rotherhithe Bridge vanity project after reluctantly admitting it was unaffordable.

There are a whole host of actions  Khan could take that would contribute towards solving TfL’s money troubles. For example, he could cut costs by taking on the militant transport unions by seeking to ban strikes on the tube, or he could abandon the economic illiteracy of his partial fare freeze which has cost TfL upwards of £640 million in lost income during his mayoralty, or he could end the scandal of offering free travel to friends and partners of TfL employees. But he has done none of these things. Instead, the Labour Mayor appears to be eyeing up London’s motorists for what could be the biggest cash grab by any Mayor in London, ever.

Left-wing politicians have been pushing  Khan to consider road pricing for some time, and earlier this year the Centre for Economics and Business Research investigated the issue and proposed charging motorists 8p per mile in London. Taking this proposal, the average driver in London would be handed an additional £519 bill each year on top of the £731 they currently pay in motoring taxes. The total income to TfL from road pricing in London would reach £1,349,504,000, so it’s easy to see why Khan might be so keen to squeeze more money from London’s motorists.

This would be a significant bill for motorists in London, representing a potential 41.5 per cent increase on the motoring taxes the average London drivers pays. We’ve already seen the damage that rushing the Ultra-Low Emission Zone caused to working people and small businesses. A London-wide road charge would push London’s lowest earners and small businesses off the road entirely.

The Mayor might think he can get away with this politically because he knows it’s the Conservative-voting outer London Boroughs that would be the hardest hit. For example, in my constituency of Bexley and Bromley, the public transport is often so poor that to travel by train between Bexleyheath and Orpington would take 55 minutes despite only being eight miles apart. Khan simply doesn’t understand that in much of London driving isn’t just an option, it’s a necessity.

The Mayor will try to justify this charge by pointing to the end of the government grant to TfL, saying he has no choice but to introduce road pricing. Khan has already tried to prepare the ground by claiming, falsely, that motorists are subsidised by public transport users despite the subsidy given to TfL’s loss-making bus service now reaching £722 million. My report explains how, in reality, the reverse is true.

For too long London’s motorists have been given a bad deal not only by the Mayor of London, but the government. I can readily understand the Government’s reluctance to devolve money to a Mayor who has repeatedly wasted taxpayers’ money. Nevertheless, there is a strong argument for doing so in this case. London-registered vehicles pay around £500 million in Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) but the money is spent on roads outside the capital despite 90 per cent of Londoners’ journeys take place entirely on the capital’s roads. In London, there is a cross-party consensus that VED should be devolved to London. Now is the time for the Conservatives to make it happen.

Devolving VED to London would both undermine any attempt by the Mayor to introduce road pricing in London and benefit London’s motorists. The Mayor would like to argue that introducing road pricing is a necessity because it is the only way TfL can afford to properly maintain London’s roads. Devolving VED would undermine this claim. Furthermore, the money should only be handed over on the strict condition that it is used to restore TfL’s pro-active road maintenance budget which the Mayor cancelled to save £200 million a year. It should also be used to restore the Local Implementation Plan (LIP) budget which   Khan has heavily cut, despite explicitly promising not to. LIP funding is vital in helping boroughs improve their transport networks. VED funding must be used to restore it.

This is not to pretend that devolving VED to the Mayor would fully fix the immense damage he’s caused to TfL’s finances, but if done correctly it would start to turn things around without giving him the leeway to waste money on ill-considered vanity projects.

Khan is closer than we think to announcing this policy. He has repeatedly refused to rule out introducing road pricing in London and he recently signed a contract with Capita Business Services Ltd to support existing road charging schemes and “potential future road and infrastructure charging schemes” until 2021. However, he knows that road pricing, if fully understood, would be unpopular in London. By drawing attention to his plans now, my London Assembly colleagues and I hope to put pressure on him to rule out this damaging suggestion. If he won’t do so, at the very least he should be open about his intentions and make clear in his manifesto that he hopes to introduce road pricing should he be re-elected as Mayor. That way Londoners will know that if they wish to avoid having their freedom taxed by being charged for every single mile they drive, they need to elect Shaun Bailey in 2020 and vote Conservative in the GLA elections.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Chloe Westley: Khan poses, tweets and postures – while London is ravaged by four murders in four days

Chloe Westley is the Campaign Manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

During the coming weeks, this website will be filled with articles about who should be the next Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister. There will be a fierce battle of ideas between those who would prefer to continue with Mayism, and those who are hoping for change. There will be advocates of a No Deal Brexit, and those who would rather a closer relationship with the EU.

But there is one point that I think all Conservatives can agree on – and that’s the appalling track record of Sadiq Khan’s tenure as Mayor of London.

Last week, four people in London were murdered in four days. This extraordinary tragic set of events sparked cries of outrage at politicians, and particularly the politician who is responsible for dealing with crime in London. The respectful thing for the Mayor to do, would have been to apologise for his lack of action and look into how he could divert more of his £18 billion budget into policing. Instead, Sadiq Khan refused to take responsibility. He claimed that ‘government cuts’ – not his own wasteful spending in other areas – had deprived the Met of the resources needed to tackle crime.

So how hard-pressed for cash is City Hall exactly? Well, somehow the Mayor found £300,000 to put on a pool party, and £20,000 to gift to a 2nd referendum campaign group. Remarkably he also found £200,000 for a flashy new website, £175,000 for a PR campaign on why ‘London is Open’, and £1.7 million for new water fountains. Oh, and of course he miraculously discovered £9 million for new hires and pay rises for City Hall staff, which could have funded 150 police officers.

Not only is Khan wasting taxpayers’ money; he’s also exploiting the office he holds to grandstand on issues which have nothing to do with the job that taxpayers pay him to do. In order to distract from the terrible job he’s doing as Mayor, Khan decides to use his platform to virtue signal about foreign affairs and social issues.

Take this inspirational video for Elle, in which he proudly declares himself a feminist. Or this video interview where he criticises Donald Trump’s domestic policies and says he shouldn’t be welcome in the UK. Or the countless times he’s called for a second referendum.

Now, you may agree with some of his opinions on these issues, but is this relevant to anything that taxpayers actually pay him to deal with? I don’t think Londoners voted for Khan so that he could seek airtime to assert his moral superiority on foreign affairs and social issues. They wanted to elect someone who would focus on improving public services like transport and policing.

Aside from virtue signalling on Twitter, the only thing he’s been able to actually achieve is to introduce a white van tax and banning ‘junk food’ advertising on the tube. Even Faiza Shaheen, a Labour Parliamentary candidate, has recognised that Khan’s van tax will hit poorer families the hardest.

And that ‘junk food’ ad ban turned out to be a ‘pretty much any food’ ban. As industry leaders tried to warn Khan, the definition of ‘junk food’ is so broad that even a bowl of strawberries would be deemed too dangerous for commuters’ eyes. If companies find they are constantly being asked to redesign their advertisements to remove all images of food, they might decide it’s not worth the hassle, resulting in less revenue for TfL. Staying very true to character, both of these policies were about ‘feeling good’ and getting a PR hit – as opposed to ‘doing good’ and thinking about the wider impact on Londoners.

As Khan tweets and tours TV studios to express his disapproval of Trump and Brexit, London suffers. Londoners have suffered through 16 tube strikes, despite Khan pledging that there would be zero strikes under his watch. In the years since Khan was first elected, reported knife crime has increased by 52 per cent, robberies up by 59 per cent, and the homicide rate by 26 per cent.

Compare Khan’s track record with Boris Johnson’s. Delays on the tube went down by around 50 per cent, making it easier for Londoners to get to work on time. And after making the tough decision to give the police greater powers to stop and search those suspected of carrying weapons, the murder rate in London went down by 50 per cent, the crime rate down by 20 per cent.

Londoners have had enough of Khan’s virtue signalling and incompetence. It’s time to put us out of our misery. We need a Mayor who focuses on the job that he or she is paid to do, who puts the needs of residents and taxpayers above the temptation to hand out pay-rises, bonuses and jobs for their mates. We need a Mayor who can take responsibility for problems in London without shifting the blame to central government.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Gareth Bacon: The ever growing cost of Khan

Gareth Bacon is the Leader of the Conservative Group on the London Assembly.

On a spring morning just over three years ago, London awoke to find that it had a new Mayor – the first holder of the office not called Ken or Boris.

More than a million Londoners put their trust in Sadiq Khan on the back of some big promises. The new Mayor reassured us that he was going to make our city a “safe and secure place.” He pledged that we wouldn’t pay a penny more to travel around the city, although this wouldn’t come at the expense of infrastructure upgrades. London’s housing crisis would be consigned to the dustbin of history – housing was, after all, his top priority. Outer London wasn’t going to be ignored, indeed the unique character of London’s suburbs would be preserved and enhanced.

Our new report, Cost of Khan 3, evaluates the Mayor’s performance since 2016. We find that Khan’s rhetoric fails to match his record, and that his complacency, incompetence, and tendency to shirk responsibility has meant that London has shifted into reverse gear.

The Mayor’s first duty is to keep Londoners safe and, on this score, he is undeniably failing. Since Khan came to office, burglary is up by 37 percent, and robbery has surged by an eye-watering 59 percent. Most tragically, the 52 percent rise in knife crime has taken the lives of far too many young Londoners. In 2018 alone there were 135 homicides – the highest rate since 2008.

Khan’s predictable response to our city’s violent crime epidemic is to adopt his ‘not me guv’ routine. He will say that he is doing all he can within tight budgets and that the blame really lies with the government.

The Mayor’s attempt to pass the buck and plead poverty would carry more weight if he wasn’t spending millions on waste and bureaucracy instead of tackling crime. This cash-strapped Mayor has somehow managed to find an additional £22 million for staff, £11 million for the culture budget and £3 million for PR. He’s even splurged £400,000 on a beach party in Newham and £10 million on a test which enables Met Police officers to determine the ‘colour’ of their personality.

This is all money which could have been spent on keeping Londoners safe. At the Mayor’s last budget, the Conservative group tabled an amendment which would have enabled Khan to cut almost £83 million of waste and use the savings to invest in an additional 1,378 police officers for London. The fact that the Mayor rejected this plan speaks volumes about his priorities for London.

It’s not only our police which this Mayor is failing to fund properly. Khan’s failure to invest in public transport means that a whole host of promised infrastructure upgrades simply haven’t materialised. Just some of these delayed or cancelled projects include the Northern Line upgrade, the Bakerloo Line extension, and the Sutton tram. There is hardly a corner of London which hasn’t been hit by a lack of transport infrastructure investment.

These cancelled improvements have come about for one reason: the transport budget deficit is on course to hit almost £900 million by 2020. The Mayor’s decision to freeze fares has starved TfL of cash, although crucially Londoners who hold season tickets have been excluded from the freeze. Khan promised he’d keep the cost of travel down for everyone while still maintaining transport investment, but he’s delivered exactly the opposite.

The Crossrail debacle has greatly exacerbated this situation. When the Mayor came to office, Crossrail was on time and on budget, but Khan quickly took his eye off the ball while failing to make any contingency plans for delays and overruns. As a result, the project could now open over two years late, which will not only deprive Londoners of better transport links but also deprive TfL of between £600 million and £1 billion in lost revenue. Many parts of London which desperately need better transport infrastructure are being let down by this Mayor’s inability to balance the budget.

While the Mayor’s incompetence means that he doesn’t have the cash to spend on transport, the same can’t be said about housing. Khan has been given nearly £5 billion by the government to build 116,000 homes by 2022 but is failing to deliver. Although we are now halfway through the government’s programme, the Mayor has only started 34,515 new homes – just 30 percent of the overall target. The reality for so many young Londoners is that home ownership still remains an impossible dream.

Getting development right in London isn’t just about the volume of homes, but the type of homes too. Building more family-sized homes in London, especially outer London, is key to stemming the exodus of families to the home counties. Yet Sadiq Khan has removed a family homes target from his housing strategy (he’s the first Mayor in the history of the office to do so) and made it far easier to build small units on precious green spaces, including back gardens. Far from being a Mayor for all Londoners, Khan has neglected outer London, and failed to understand that a different approach is required when it comes to our city’s suburbs.

Being London Mayor is one of the best jobs in politics. Sadiq Khan has a far-reaching remit, an £18 billion budget, and the ability to change Londoners’ lives for the better. Three years in, it is clear that the Mayor is passing up his golden opportunity to deliver the positive change that Londoners need.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Tom Wilson: How this Islamophobia definition would weaken the Government’s counter-terror strategy

Tom Wilson is a Senior Research Fellow in the Security and Extremism Unit at Policy Exchange.

Later this week, Parliament will hold a debate on Islamophobia and, specifically, on the APPG on British Muslims’ proposal for a formal definition of the term. While many may feel there are bigger questions on the national agenda, what is decided now will have significant ramifications for long to come. A definition of Islamophobia is being proposed that, if adopted, could tie government’s hands on a number of vital areas of future legislation—not least on counter-terrorism. The concern here is whether once accepted this definition might impact media freedom, and freedom of expression more widely still.

There is common agreement that where it occurs, prejudice and discrimination against minorities should be combatted in all its manifestations. If that were all that the term Islamophobia was concerned with—as many well intentioned people seem to believe—then there could be little objection to the term. Unfortunately, Islamophobia is a word that comes with a deeply problematic history. As our new report published for Policy Exchange explains, this is a term that was always intended to go far beyond simply protecting individuals from persecution.

The definition proposed by the APPG states that “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness”. If formally adopted by government, there is critical question of whether such a vague and expansive definition would undermine both existing and future legislation—particularly in the area of security and counter-extremism.

Conceivably, we could expect to see this definition used to challenge legislation in the courts and quite possibly there would be a further impact at the level of Judicial Review of how existing powers are used and implemented. As Richard Walton—the former head of Counter Terrorism Command at the Met—pointed out on ConservativeHome recently, under the terms of the Islamophobia definition, measures in the Human Rights Act 1998 regarding discrimination could well be used against the police in their efforts to pursue and prosecute terrorists.

Furthermore, there is the fear that definition might cause particular difficulties for local authorities, several of which have precipitously moved to adopt the APPG’s definition independent of national government. Opponents of the counter radicalisation Prevent programme have previously argued that local authorities face a conflict in being able to uphold both their Equalities duty and their obligations under Prevent. Notably, in the Runnymede Trust’s 2017 report on Islamophobia, the argument was made that Prevent effectively conflicts with the public sector equality duty on account of being discriminatory against Muslims. This claim is dubious. Yet the risk is that by endorsing the Islamophobia definition, we might see campaigners challenge local government on its implementation of Prevent by arguing that councils are conflict with their own Islamophobia definition.

Many of those minded to offer their backing for the definition without necessarily being aware of the ramifications for important areas of policy, do so out of a well-intentioned desire to show support for people who have been the victim of prejudice. But one of the great flaws in the definition concerns the groups that it leaves out.

Several prominent Muslim figures have been critical of the failure of the APPG to address intra-Muslim hatred. Commenting on our new study, Baroness Falkner noted that the APPG’s own Islamophobia report, “was as silent on the impact of Islamism as it was on the very real discrimination that Muslim minorities and secular Muslims face from within their own faith. The APPG’s definition does nothing to address this form of prejudice.” The targeting of minorities within Islam by extremists should be of considerable concern in the UK, and particularly in Scotland where Asad Shah—a member of the Ahmadiyya community—was murdered in Glasgow in 2016. Given that it is reported that the political parties there have now adopted the APPG’s definition, they must ask whether that definition is adequate given its neglect of intra-Muslim hatred.

Baroness Falkner spoke out about her own first hand experience of this form of prejudice during a Lords debate on Islamophobia in December. During that same debate, Lord Singh also noted the experience of other minorities when observing the particular attention that Islamophobia receives in public debates. As he explained, other minority groups look at this long running focus on Islamophobia and feel as if they are falling off of the government’s radar on account of lacking “a culture of complaint”.

This is something those considering adopting the definition of Islamophobia have to take into account. It has been reported that Labour, the Liberal Democrats and London City Hall have all adopted the APPG’s definition of Islamophobia. There were similar reports that the Scottish Conservatives may have accepted the definition, although the details here remain unclear.

What is notable is that so far the Conservative Government has resisted doing so. This after all is a maximalist definition, and as our report documents, highly problematic groups and individuals – of the type kept at arms length by the last Labour government as well as its Conservative successors – have played a prominent role in campaigning for an Islamophobia definition. Several appear to have fed into the definition now being proposed. A more reasonable definition—or perhaps simply a national strategy on combatting anti-Muslim hatred—might easily have won near universal backing. Instead, this definition has become a matter of contention and may yet be rejected altogether.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Iain Dale: Why shouldn’t the Conservatives welcome back the Kippers?

Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and is a commentator for CNN.

The fire in Notre Dame on Monday was a tragedy in so many ways – but one which unusually didn’t involve any loss of life. In a slightly twisted way, it’s probably an event which will work to the political benefit of Emmanuel Macron.

His popularity ratings are at an all-time low. Just 27 per cent of the French people approve of the job he is doing. They think he’s getting increasingly regal – not unknown for a French President (think Chirac, Mitterand) – and they have no confidence in his economic reforms. They see the havoc wrought by the Gilets Jaunes each weekend for the last six months, and realise that their President not only in large part caused these protests but also has no idea how to quell them.

Politicians are often judged by how they react to national tragedies and disasters. They present a real opportunity to either fall flat on your face if you strike the wrong tone, or capture the mood of the nation if you get it right.

Macron lost little time in visiting the scene. I suspect his presence wasn’t exactly welcomed by the ‘Pompiers’ who were still trying to douse the fire, but he would have been damned if he hadn’t turned up promptly…and was no doubt damned anyway for turning up with what some saw as indecent haste.

It will be interesting to see whether the Gilets Jaunes decide to cancel their protests in Paris and around the country this weekend. If they do, it could provide some much-needed respite for the beleaguered President.

– – – – – – – – – – –

One consequence of the fact that Britain will now have to take part in the European elections is that Nigel Farage can’t present his LBC show for the next seven weeks.  Under OfCom rules, candidates are not allowed to present radio or TV shows during the campaign. So bang go my weekends – as I’ll be covering for him on Sunday mornings, while Eddie Mair will cover his weekday 6-7pm hour.

Last Sunday, I had Anna Soubry in the studio for an hour doing a 30 minute interview and then taking calls for another 30 minutes. She was in typical robust formm but was rather skewered by the final caller who asked her if it was true that one of her reasons for wanting to remain in the EU was because she wanted to reform it from the inside. Yes, she said. That was certainly the case.

The caller then said: “Well why haven’t you applied the same principle to remaining in the Conservative Party, Anna?” All I could think of was why hadn’t I thought of asking her that question! And that’s why phone-ins are the perfect example of the concept of “Wisdom of Crowds”. #BackInMyBox

– – – – – – – – – –

According to Guido Fawkes, the number of Conservative Party members has increased by 30,000 in recent months to 150,000. Some fear that is proof that there is “entryism” from people who have only joined because they want a vote in the coming leadership election.

If many of these people are ex-UKIPers, can they really be described as ‘entryists’, given that they were almost certainly Conservative supporters before they defected to UKIP. Surely the party should be embracing them with open arms and welcoming them home?

– – – – – – – – – – –

The Conservative leadership contest is well and truly underway – though, for all we know, it could last for the rest of the year. This week, Sajid Javid has made an impact with his speech on crime.

The more personal part of his speech, where he claimed he could easily have been drawn into a life of crime, really hit home with a lot of people. Some say that he lacks the emotional intelligence to be a political leader, but this speech did a lot to address that. Expect him to do much more to show his personality and character over the coming weeks.

– – – – – – – – – –

On Wednesday, it was announced that I’m doing a show at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. It’s called Iain Dale – All Talk… and I’ll be doing ‘In Conversation’ style interviews with all sorts of people from the world of politics and the media.

My guests will include: Nicola Sturgeon, Sadiq Khan, Kirsty Wark, Christiane Amanpour, Sayeeda Warsi, Sarah Smith, Johnny Mercer, Heidi Allen, Layla Moran, Alan Johnson, Fi Glover, Sarah Smith, Jacqui Smith, Louise Casey, Jess Phillips and John McDonnell. It will runs from 31 July-11 August at 4pm each afternoon at the Gilded Balloon. Tickets are available from the Gilded Balloon website.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Murad Gassanly: Why I left the Labour Party

Cllr Murad Gassanly represents Churchill Ward on Westminster City Council.

I joined the Conservatives because I believe we are the party of the democratic centre-ground in British politics. I was elected to Westminster City Council in 2014 as a Labour councillor for Churchill Ward, Pimlico, a stone’s throw away from Victoria Station. But my disillusionment with the direction Labour was taking nationally and locally led to my resignation in 2016.

It was not just because ‘Corbyn’s Bolsheviks’ colonised and destroyed Labour. I realised that rather than serving residents, the local Westminster Labour Party are only interested in ‘opposition for opposition’s sake’.

I was appalled at Labour’s consistent undermining of Westminster Council’s housing projects, which I see as a betrayal of the very people who need affordable homes the most. In 2017, I crossed the floor of Westminster City Council and took the Tory whip. As Labour councillors took to addressing each other as ‘comrades’, I could not help reflecting on my life story – I know from my parents, born in the former USSR, the dangers of state socialism and authoritarianism. Corbyn’s Regime represents real danger in equal measure to the liberty and prosperity of our country. It must be resisted, and the Conservatives are the Party to meet this challenge.

It is my family’s experience of life in Britain that shaped my understanding of conservatism and led me on the journey to join the Conservative Party. My parents are first generation immigrants from Azerbaijan who worked hard to provide for me and my brother, and taught us the values of self-reliance, thrift, enterprise, and aspiration. Their relentless focus on education formed my understanding and expectation of success.

I attended North Westminster Community School – an ordinary, inner-city comprehensive. Having graduated from LSE, I embarked on postgraduate study at Cardiff University, gaining a PhD in energy politics in the Caspian region. Yet I consider being a Westminster City councillor my greatest personal achievement – a testament to the freedoms and opportunities that Britain offers and a unique chance to fulfil my civic duty to give back to our country – I believe that citizenship is earned, not simply acquired.

Many were surprised when I re-won my council seat as a Conservative in May 2018, with a 7.5 per cent swing and a higher popular vote share than I got in 2014. Labour targeted Westminster, throwing the kitchen sink at the effort to “unseat” Conservatives. Corbyn and Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, visited my ward and launched their demagogic housing policy in a PR stunt on the Churchill Gardens estate, where I live.

Unlike Labour’s (middle) class-warriors, I live in council house and know what people around here really think. As the Prime Minister put it in her Observer article back in October:

“The British people are not bound by ideology and there has never been a time when party labels have counted for less”.

She couldn’t have been more right. Regardless of the debates around Brexit, Tories are now the party of the democratic centre-ground.

Our party is changing, and it is exciting to be part of this transformation. The Conservatives can be the party not for the few, not even for the many, but for everyone in our country who works hard and plays by the rules. Here in Westminster, our Council leader, Cllr Nickie Aiken, set out a practical vision of how this is to be achieved – we call it City for All.

We are keeping council tax as low as possible whilst inviting those who can to make an additional voluntary contribution to the Council’s budget. We are building more social housing, but also increasing supply of affordable accommodation for those on middle-incomes who don’t qualify for social rent. We operate twice-weekly bin collections and keep our roads and pavements impeccably clean and well-maintained. We ensure that all our projects are fiscally viable and that we act responsibly with public finances – it is not the Council’s money, but the taxpayers’ money.

The Conservative Party is the natural political home for those who want to see fairness and prosperity, who want to preserve what works and improve what can be, who value national identity and are open to the world, who believe in Britain’s future as an independent global trading nation where opportunity is shared equally by all, and where everyone’s protected by the safety net of the welfare state but is free to rise high above it and achieve their full potential. We must remember that it is not Brexit that poses greatest threat to our security and prosperity – it’s the Corbyn regime.

Let’s fulfil our duty.

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