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Sadiq Khan ‘favours empty gesture politics over getting on with day job’ in latest ploy


Sadiq Khan pledges new ‘drugs commission’ if re-elected

Mr Khan will establish a new commission to examine the use of drugs in the capital if he is re-elected as Mayor of London on May 6. The Labour incumbent has promised to start the group of independent experts for “fresh ideas” if he wins a new mandate next month. These experts from fields including criminal justice, community relations and public health, will examine evidence on the harms of drugs, support services and prevention, the effectiveness of current laws as well as tackling the root causes of crime.

According to a source close to the Mayor, Mr Khan would be willing to consider supporting changes to the legal status of cannabis if that is the view of the commission.

Mr Khan said on Monday: “It’s time for fresh ideas about how to reduce the harm drugs and drug-related crimes cause to individuals, families and communities.

“The illegal drugs trade causes huge damage to our society – driving serious and violent crime, damaging people’s health and criminalising too many young people.

“That’s why, if I’m re-elected, I will establish a new London Drugs Commission composed of independent experts to examine the latest evidence from around the world.

“The commission will make recommendations focusing on the most effective laws to tackle crime, protect Londoners’ health and reduce the huge damage that illegal drugs, including cannabis, cause to our communities and society.”

The announcement has received mixed responses.

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Sadiq Khan ‘favours empty gesture politics over getting on with day job’ in latest ploy (Image: GETTY)

While some have welcomed the news, others believe it is simply a political stunt.

According to writer and political commentator Nick Tyrone, Mr Khan’s decision to launch the commission will only be a waste of taxpayers’ money.

He explained in a recent report: “It shows all too clearly that Khan values empty gesture politics over getting on with his day job.

“Don’t get me wrong: legalising cannabis seems a smart idea. It is, after all, a waste of police time and effort stopping the trade of drugs which are widely used and cause comparatively limited harm. But is it any of Khan’s business to focus on this issue?

“There is a mountain of evidence out there already. We don’t need to waste London taxpayers’ money doing more research on this subject.

“If Khan wants to decriminalise soft drugs, he should just go ahead and say so. He should take a stand and pledge to enact it if re-elected. Instead Khan has, as usual, opted for the softer, easier option: by setting up another unwanted, costly ‘commission’.”

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City Hall (Image: GETTY)

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London Mayor Sadiq Khan (Image: GETTY)

Just “looking into” something is straightforward and carries with it no consequence, Mr Tyrone noted.

They are a way of seeming like he is doing something in politics without doing anything at all, he argued, and it is all very on brand for Mr Khan.

He concluded in his piece for The Spectator: “To make matters worse, the Mayor of London has no power to decriminalise drugs.

“Khan isn’t stupid: he knows this perfectly well. Which means this is just a big stunt; a strange sort of virtue signalling to the metropolitan hash heads across our nation’s capital.

“The London Mayor seems to want to make an empty promise to show he’s down with the kids.”

Peter Reynolds, the President of CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform, echoed Mr Tyrone’s claims in a recent report for the Daily Express.

He argued that instead of setting up a review, Mr Khan should just go ahead and support decriminalising cannabis.

He wrote: “No.10 has hit back saying that a review is a waste of time and it has no plans to change the law because ‘illicit drugs destroy lives and cannabis is a harmful substance’.

“I agree. A review would be a waste of time.

“We already have all the evidence we need from around the world and it is clear that legalisation would reduce all harm, undermine the gangsters, cut street dealing and violence, protect children and families.”

It is not the first time Mr Khan has been accused of wasting taxpayers’ money.

According to famed columnist Steerpike, Mr Khan has gone both “woke” and “broke” during his time as Mayor.

The number of staff at City Hall has increased by 45 percent in just four years, rising from 817 in May 2016 to 1,190 in April 2020.

Among these, Steerpike noted, include at least nine members of staff are tasked with responsibilities for inclusion, diversity and fairness – a ratio of one per 132 total employees.

The columnist wrote: “Posts include a Programme Director for Economic Fairness who earns between £70,241 and £76,029 compared to a London Assembly Member’s salary of £58,543.

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London news

Her Majesty’s Treasury (Image: GETTY)

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Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey (Image: GETTY)

“Mr S has totted up the figures and based on GLA salary bands they should be pulling in a combined annual income of between £467,340 and £508,648.”

By comparison the Department for Business just across the Thames has only six employees with the words “equality, diversity, inclusion, gender, LGBT or race” in their job title, Steerpike added.

This is despite boasting some 4,760 staff in their core department – a ratio of one diversity officer to every 793 civil servants.

The columnist concluded in his piece for The Spectator: “The Treasury has five for 1,700 staff – a rate of one per 340 – while the Home Office has 18 members of its central Diversity and Inclusion team. This is to cover a workforce of nearly 37,000 staff or one equality officer per 2,000 mandarins.

“The figures, released after a freedom of information request, come just weeks after it was revealed that the Mayor’s controversial ‘commission for diversity in the public realm’ is expected to cost more than £1million.

“Members of the commission were announced last month and have a brief to review all of London’s statues and street names following the toppling of Edward Colston in Bristol last July.

“Activist Toyin Agbetu has already been forced to resign from the panel after a fortnight following the discovery of antisemitic posts by Jewish News.”

Asked about the figures, a spokesperson for the Mayor told the publication: “With Londoners still facing discrimination because of sexuality, gender, disability or the colour of their skin, the mayor makes no apology for promoting fairness, diversity and inclusion across the capital.

“The lack of similar posts across Whitehall could suggest that the Government does not take issues regarding diversity and equality seriously enough.”

A new poll gives Mr Khan a clear lead in the race for City Hall in May’s election.

With less than a month to go until voting day the YouGov/MEI poll puts the Labour candidate at 47 percent, way ahead of his nearest rival Conservative Shaun Bailey at 26 percent.

The poll was carried out by YouGov for the Mile End Institute which is part of Queen Mary University.

It shows the Green Party candidate Sian Berry and Lib Dem candidate Luisa Porritt even further behind on nine and seven percent respectively.



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