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The independent London newspaper

Where is the voice of outrage over knife crime crisis?

19 September, 2019

London Mayor Sadiq Khan

SADIQ Khan may feel like he is in Camden “all of the time” but for many – and particularly the families of dead knife crime victims – this may sound like another hollow soundbite.

This week, he finally agreed to come to Camden on the back of three murder investigations launched in the same week.

Many of the people he met, he suggested, he had spoken to many times before.

Is Mr Khan operating in a political bubble, surrounded by familiar faces, obsequious advisers, unelected deputy mayors?

Has he – and his allies in Camden Labour Party – become out of touch with what is going on below, and the communities they profess to be consulting with?

The meeting held this week could be seen to be simply going through the motions, a tick-box exercise. It has ended with Georgia Gould writing a letter to the secretary of state demanding more police are put on Camden streets.

Hiring more police obviously should form part of any strategic plan to tackle the crisis at hand. But there is a danger of seeing it as the only way out.

There is a crisis building up in London that has become concentrated in Camden – possibly for historical reasons. We have heard the speeches about austerity, and cuts to youth services. People should not be afraid to look squarely at the problem staring them in the face.

What is needed is a real campaign. Sadiq Khan – who claims to be “optimistic” about stemming the murder rate – should be part of this. He and leaders like Georgia Gould have a responsibility to fight for this. There is no voice of outrage, anger. That is what is missing.

In 2015, Sadiq Khan was one of the 36 MPs who nominated Jeremy Corbyn for leader and, arguably, was elected Mayor on the back of a surge of support for socialist principles at the time.

Days after taking office, he gave an interview to the Daily Mail distancing him from his party’s new economic vision, saying: “I will be my own man.”

Last year he ordered an increase in stop and search – three years after promising to “do everything in my power to cut stop and search”.

He had promised a review into cuts to the fire service, by his predecessor Boris Johnson, but this resulted in no meaningful changes. Stations remained shuttered, firefighter numbers have not increased.

The private rental sector remains astronomically high. Air pollution remains at unlawful levels.

His office has become characterised by insipid soundbites and hashtags like “London is open” or “delivering for Londoners”.

Khan is campaigning to be re-elected in 2020 predictably under the banner of “delivering change for London”. But the trouble with a politician who sets out to protect the status quo is that most things will stay the same.

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