By Sadiq Khan
Mayor of London
IT HAS been a truly terrible year. The pandemic has affected us all – the grief of losing loved ones, the devastating impact on businesses and jobs, and the emotional strain of being unable to meet our close friends and family.
The thing I’ve missed most is hugging my mum and eating her brilliant home-cooked food – nothing can beat it. In normal times, me, my wife and my daughters, like so many other Asian families across the country, would congregate at my mum’s house for lunch over the weekend. It’s been so strange for us all not to have this as part of our family routine.
However, thanks to the success of the vaccine roll out, we can finally see some light at the end of the tunnel. We can start to look forward to the precious moment when we can reconnect and begin to get our communities, businesses and lives back on track.
As mayor of London, my focus is now on putting the dark days of the pandemic behind us and delivering the brighter future that we all deserve. This means ensuring no community is left behind as we seek to rebuild London as a better, more prosperous, more equal city.
I’m optimistic that we can achieve this goal, but only with the right approach and level of ambition. That’s why there’s so much at stake in the London mayoral elections on May 6.
I know many Asian communities have suffered in recent months. The disproportionate number of deaths from Covid-19 in ethnic minority communities like ours has been widely reported. But we also know that many Asian businesses have been left struggling and that a higher proportion of our families have been forced into financial hardship as a result of the economic fallout from the pandemic.
I’m determined to do all I can to use a second term at City Hall to support those who have been hit hardest by the pandemic and to get our economy firing on all cylinders again.
I have unveiled a bumper package of measures worth £544 million to help kickstart our economic recovery. If re-elected, I promise to continue supporting businesses across London to create thousands of well-paid jobs, targeted at those who need them most, including Asian Londoners.
I will invest in our high streets. I will use every lever at my disposal to help those who have lost their jobs to retrain, skill up and find work. I will invest millions in attracting visitors back to central London and continue banging the drum for jobs, tourism and investment in our city, both at home and abroad. And I will work to increase cooperation and trade between London and cities around the world, including in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and other countries.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of our local economies and I pledge to transform the level of support we provide to them. Asian businesses in the capital brighten up our high streets, improve the quality of life in our neighbourhoods and enrich our society and culture. That’s why we must not only ensure that they can survive these tough times, but also help them to thrive in future.
As we recover and rebuild, we must also tackle the inequalities that have been exposed and exacerbated by the pandemic. Too many people, including many Asian Londoners, are still held back by deep-seated injustices that have been tolerated for far too long. That’s why another cornerstone of my plan for a second term is to level the playing field for all Londoners by narrowing the economic, social and health inequalities that scar our city.
I’ve been lucky – I was given the opportunities I needed to go from growing up on a council estate to becoming a human rights lawyer, helping to run my own business. And then from being elected MP for my local community in south London, to the mayor of the greatest city on earth. It’s my personal mission to ensure all young Londoners – regardless of their background, race or religion – can have the same shot at making the most of their talents and fulfilling their aspirations.
Vitally, I also promise to continue celebrating London’s diversity and championing the amazing contribution Asian communities make across our city. Our diversity is not a weakness, but our greatest strength – a message I will never stop promoting. This is in sharp contrast to the views of the Conservative candidate for mayor, who has said that accommodating Muslims and Hindus by celebrating Eid and Diwali “robs Britain of its community” and risks turning the country into a “crime-riddled cesspool”.
Ultimately, this election is about building the brighter, fairer, more equal capital that all Londoners deserve, where our values of equality, openness and respect for diversity are protected, cherished and celebrated. In what is a two-horse race between me and the anti-diversity Conservative candidate, I believe that I’m the only one who can help to deliver this brighter future.
So I’m asking all Eastern Eye readers, your families, communities and all of us who love London, to lend me your vote on May 6.