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May 3, 2016

Khan vs Goldsmith race: Here’s what London’s next-gen leaders think

By Zak Smith

Zakari Smith senses unease, disappointment and apathy as he talks to young London professionals about the mayoral race.

As the marauding clouds of another Labour racism row storm above the capital, London is reaching the climax of the Khan vs Goldsmith heavyweight bout to become mayor of one of the world’s greatest cities. With the election a few days away, I was keen to hit the streets and find out what London’s next generation of business leaders, opinion makers and property moguls felt about the upcoming vote and who would get their nomination come May 5th.

Like the locusts from the ten plagues God sent Pharaoh, anti-Semitism seems to be eating away at the core of the Labour party with particular voraciousness. Given that the Jewish community just celebrated Passover, a story of redemption from hatred, this is unfortunately doing Sadiq Khan no favours.

According to Ronnie, a private equity analyst, ‘I think Khan has done an amazing job at conveying an image of honesty and integrity, it’s just a shame the same can’t be said about the Labour Party. Given the threat of ISIS, the immigration crisis and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, I would be very uncomfortable voting for their candidate as the party’s focus seems to entirely revolve around a dark obsession with Jews.’

Jack, a chartered surveyor, agreed. ‘I’m not sure I trust Khan to tackle radical Islamism and the current threats given his questionable friendships, but even before you get to his policies, I couldn’t vote for him because frankly Jeremy Corbyn is a disgrace.’

However, what was interesting to note was that despite widespread unease with the Labour Party, it wasn’t necessarily pushing young city voters towards Zac Goldsmith, who many felt was uninspiring and out of touch.

I spoke with Harry, a 26 year old real estate finance associate, who when not angrily answering emails until the early hours of the morning six days a week, agonises about Brexit and getting onto the property ladder.

‘I’m not actually voting. Zac is pro-Brexit which, frankly, is a position which defies belief given the importance of the City to London’s economy. He’s little more than an indulged environmentalist who’s doing whatever he’s told by Tory head office.’

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The key issue for many young Londoners is housing and the economy, and combined with an apathy towards Goldsmith, there is a genuine fear of Labour control over the economic future of the capital, leaving many unsure where to turn.

For Ben, a junior bond trader, ‘If Sadiq didn’t have such radical views on social housing I’d genuinely consider him as an alternative to Zac, who’s so uninspiring and seems quite fake. But I think if you’re even remotely pro-wealth, it’s foolish to vote for Sadiq.’

Clive, a residential property developer, felt the same. ‘Khan would be a disaster for London real estate. Trying to enforce 50 per cent affordable housing for all new developments whilst preaching about the housing crisis – the two just can’t go hand in hand.’

More than anything, a sense of bemusement and apathy surrounds both candidates, and for Jonathan, a civil servant, the whole campaign has been an unedifying mess.

‘Neither Khan nor Goldsmith have tried to put forward a positive empowering vision for a future London as a social and economic hub. This campaign is a pitiful reflection of the kind of identity politics rife in current times. I want to judge their campaigns on the content of their proposals and ideas, not their bank accounts or religious persuasion.’

With the vote a few days away, it’s impossible to call who will win, but an apathy towards Zac Goldsmith and a general uneasiness towards the Labour Party will give whoever wins a huge challenge in winning over the affection and admiration of London’s 8.9 million inhabitants.

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