Why you should vote for Sadiq Khan

As a young gay Londoner, it would be such a powerful message to have a Muslim mayor who is so committed to LGBT rights that he had a fatwa placed on him for it

Sadiq Khan says he will have a ‘32-borough strategy’ in his mayoral election campaign
Sadiq Khan says he will have a ‘32-borough strategy’ in his mayoral election campaign

London is a city that combines more nationalities, cultures, languages and worldviews than any other. There isn't a street in this city that doesn't boast the capital's diversity.

My own alma Marta of LSE - which sits on one street in Holborn - is said to have as many nationalities as the UN, learning and living from London every day.

Read the other side: Why you should vote for Zac Goldsmith

London is, to the core, a world city. That's why we need a mayor who embraces the world.

Sadiq Khan is the candidate backing London's place as a leader in Europe and in the wider world. He understands that being diverse isn't a weakness of London's identity, it's our greatest selling point.

As a young gay man in this city, it would be such a powerful message to have a Muslim mayor, so committed to LGBT rights that he had a fatwa placed on him for it. For me it speaks volumes: Sadiq Khan understands London's identity, and he's not afraid to stand up for it.

That's why the Tory campaign for Zac Goldsmith has been such a sad episode. Attempting to link Sadiq to the heinous bombings of 7/7 in the Daily Mail, Goldsmith proved only one point: he doesn't understand London.

Goldsmith's campaign has mustered nothing more than racially and religiously divisive attacks, turning this election partly into a referendum on London's diversity. In this way the city has a choice: to vote for the modern, progressive, diverse London that brings millions in each year, or for a man who thinks pointing and shouting "Muslim" at someone is an acceptable way to campaign.

That's why I hope Londoners of every walk of life will defend modern London with a vote for Sadiq Khan.

But this city doesn't work for everyone who has made it their home, even with its mix. The most expensive Tube fares in the world, along with rents that are more than a third of incomes, do nothing to prove the greatness of London.

It isn't in the interests of Londoners to constantly inflate the cost of getting around. Freezing fares for four years is an answer to that. Introducing a one hour ticket - so you can get multiple buses to work on one fare - is revolutionary for the people it helps.

London needs a revolution in its housing market even more. From my own ex-council flat in Lambeth, I can see nothing but vacant, glass plated towers climbing the Vauxhall riverfront. The truth is they'll remain vacant in the current system - used to fuel investment opportunities for foreign businessmen – while Londoners are squeezed into ever more expensive, lower quality housing.

If we want one thing from the next Mayor, it must surely be someone who will tackle these challenges. Sadiq will not only fast-track affordable housing, but also aims for it to make up 50 per cent of all new housing if he becomes Mayor. On top of this, he'll spend an extra £400m to help housing associations build 80,000 new homes a year, and make it easier to hold bad landlords to account.

Nastiest moments in the London mayoral election

Sadiq Khan is the Muslim son of a bus driver who became a businessman. He’s an LGBT rights proponent, a self-proclaimed feminist and, this campaign has showed, a decent guy. His is the story of London. I hope Londoners will write a proud new chapter in that story.

That's why I'm voting for Sadiq Khan, and why you should too.

Benjamin Butterworth is Chair of Young Labour in London, and Tweets at @benjaminbutter

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