The Tories are executing last resort strategies in their campaign for the London mayoral election. Boris Johnson has released a sinister propaganda video on the Conservatives’ YouTube channel.
The election on 5 May will be a battle between Labour’s Sadiq Khan and the Conservatives’ Zac Goldsmith. With the demeanor of a school bully trying to coerce a younger kid, Johnson attempts to intimidate voters into siding with Goldsmith:
The resignation of Iain Duncan Smith and widespread condemnation of Osborne’s budget this week happens within a backdrop of forecasts they will lose the London mayoral election. This has elicited a desperate propaganda video from the Conservatives.
But in this video, Johnson’s arguments are wholly negative. Where’s the positive case for voting for Goldsmith? One must assume there isn’t one.
Johnson begins his pitch with a howling argumentative fallacy. Because Khan had “experimented” with Jeremy Corbyn by nominating him for Labour leader, Johnson says, he would also “experiment with the mayoralty and wreck London”.
The current Mayor of London gives no explanation as to why Khan’s nomination of Corbyn means he would destroy London. It was merely pure, shameless propaganda from Johnson. Or a slippery slope logical fallacy – which “shifts attention to extreme hypotheticals” rather than “engaging with the issue at hand”.
All Khan’s policies are another dangerous Corbyn experiment. His plan to create a special unit for the striking trade unions. His £1.9bn black hole in the transport budget. And his housing policy that will make the problem worse.
Firstly, trade unions can be a vehicle for working people in London to be heard. Maximising communication with them is key to running the city effectively, rather than the Conservative policy of escalating the problem to the point where people feel strike action is necessary (like we have seen with the junior doctor and London tube strikes).
Secondly, Transport for London (TfL) did say that Khan’s plan to freeze tube and rail fares would cost £1.9bn. This is potentially the only valid point from Johnson. Instead of denying this, Khan should have reassessed his transport policy. It’s not a bad idea to keep fares down for Londoners, but TfL is already publicly owned so its profits are reinvested anyway.
Thirdly, nothing could be worse than the Tories’ housing policy. Their disastrous Housing and Planning Bill defines ‘Starter Homes’ as affordable, even though a family earning Osborne’s ‘national living wage’ will not be able to afford one in 98% of the country. This will only exacerbate the housing crisis by taking up land.
But there is an even more overwhelming inaccuracy at the heart of Johnson’s claims.
Khan would be lucky to ride the Corbyn wave
Khan has repeatedly used his media space to cosy up to big business. Incredulously, instead of taking advantage of Corbyn’s popularity, Khan is trying to outflank multi-millionaire aristocrat Goldsmith from the right.
He toldThe Spectator, a pro-Conservative magazine owned by the Telegraph‘s David and Frederick Barclay:
I want Spectator readers to give me a second look.
He continued, showing complete obliviousness to monumental income disparity:
I welcome the fact that we have got 140+ billionaires living in London; that’s a good thing.
This shows a profound misunderstanding of macroeconomics, because these billionaires will not be spending these billions in the day-to-day real economy. Instead, their money will be transferred to financial sector speculation or will just stagnate in off-shore accounts.
Johnson has spent his time as Mayor of London selling off chunks of Britain’s capital city to foreign investors. Yet Khan had abundant praise for him, championing him as “a great salesman for our city” who made him feel “proud to be a Londoner”.
Here’s a brilliant summary of the battle for London, accompanied by the quick wit of Novara Media‘s Aaron Bastani:
Additionally, the fact that the comments and likes options are disabled on Conservative party videos is telling:
When they have full control over a space, the Tories will censor free speech and curtail democracy. They will bury criticism and drown out opposition. Expressing our opinions would be arbitrarily censored nationwide if the Tories felt they could get away with it.
The Tories have kicked the propaganda up a notch with this pitch from Boris, which censors criticism.
Meanwhile, Khan is trying to distance himself from Corbyn supporters. Yet both the supporters and Khan are in fact mutually dependent. Khan needs to ride Corbyn’s wave of popularity to victory, and he needs the grassroots organising capabilities that Corbyn supporters can deliver. And at the same time, these Corbyn supporters need Khan to win, because a loss would be seen as a test of Corbyn’s leadership.
If Khan wins, the Corbyn factor will likely be downplayed by the corporate media. Other reasons for Khan’s victory will probably be emphasised. But because the outcome of the election is not certain, many Corbyn supporters may feel forced to campaign for Khan.
On principle, Corbyn supporters may object to supporting Khan’s policies, but the political capital at stake for Corbyn in this mayoral election is great enough that they will have to bite the bullet. The Blairites within the party would make use of a Labour loss at this mayoral election to add weight to their planned political coup. This would happen despite it being sickeningly ironic: Khan would have lost because he occupied a Blairite platform.
For now, Corbyn supporters and Khan are shackled together, whether they like it or not.
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