LONDON Pro-business London mayor Sadiq Khan one of the Labour Party’s most powerful figures, heaped pressure on his socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn to deliver an election win, using a speech on Tuesday to stress the importance of being in office.
Khan became Labour’s most senior elected official in May, beating a candidate from the ruling Conservatives to win a huge mandate over London’s 17 billion pound budget which covers areas like business policy, housing, policing and transport.
His remarks are a direct challenge to Corbyn, who was re-elected as leader of the party last week after surviving an attempted coup triggered by lawmakers who said his leadership had been weak and focused on ideology rather than winning power.
“Labour out of power will never ever be good enough,” Khan told Labour’s annual conference in the northern city of Liverpool. His speech used the words “in power” around 30 times.
“It’s only with Labour in power can we create a fairer, more equal and more just Britain,” he added. “And when Labour’s not in power, we fail the very people who need us most.”
Britain is not due to hold a national election until 2020, but some in Labour say the June vote to leave the European Union will force one sooner. The government says it has no need to do so.
Corbyn sat on stage throughout Khan’s remarks but did not join the audience of party activists and officials in applauding during his speech, only clapping at its conclusion.
Opinion polling released last week showed only 16 percent of voters though Labour was likely to win the next election under Corbyn compared to 65 percent who thought the Conservatives likely to win under Prime Minister Theresa May.
Khan won control of London promising to be the city’s most pro-business mayor ever. Although he nominated Corbyn as leader in 2015, he has since backed away from the veteran lawmaker’s left-wing policy agenda, and voted for Corbyn’s rival in the Summer leadership challenge.
His speech comes a day after Labour Party finance chief John McDonnell set out a raft of radical business policies to be enacted if Labour wins power at the next election, much of which drew sharp criticism from business groups.
(Editing by Stephen Addison)