Sadiq Khan has given an interview to the Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency, in which he says he wants London to take inspiration from how they do things in Istanbul:
“Istanbul has a young population. They manage to combine being both European and Asian, being Muslim and being secular. I am very impressed with the progress made in Istanbul. The infrastructure expenditure [and] investment in public transport is really important. That’s what we need to see in London. London cannot afford to stand still. I want to see Istanbul and London working together… From Istanbul to Paris… I want to learn the best lessons from the mayors around the world and replicate them here in London.”
Not everyone shares Sadiq’s superlative-laden spiel on the Turkish economy. According to the Economist’s recent special report on Turkey, the country is “performing well below its potential” and is ruled by a leader with a “failing” commitment to democracy, where “businesses without friends in government have suffered”. As for Istanbul’s infrastructure, “the city has more congested roads than any other in Europe” and “only 15% of journeys in Istanbul made by public transport”. All in all it’s an economically stagnating, increasingly Islamist, authoritarian fiefdom. Is that really what Sadiq wants for London, or is he cynically looking to sew up the votes of the London Turkish demographic?