You’d have expected newly-elected Sadiq Khan’s diary to be pretty full given the problems facing London; unexpectedly, however, the mayor decided to spend today in Yorkshire. Ahead of the visit, he wrote an op-ed in the Yorkshire Post pledging to help heal the north-south divide:
“Contrary to what some people might think, I know that as a Londoner I have a lot in common with people across Yorkshire. Not just a passion for cricket and cups of tea, but things that are much more fundamental – a desire to see the next generation do better than the last, a desire for dignity in old age, and a desire to see decent, secure, well-paid jobs being created for our communities.”
Whilst the crude stereotypes about tea and cricket make Sadiq sound precisely like the alien Londoner he’s trying to avoid, it’s impossible not to question the real motives behind the trip. Visiting a North Yorkshire bus station with Tracy Brabin looks far less about his current job, and much more about future Labour leadership ambitions that would depend on northern support.
The timing comes shortly after his (arguably) biggest rival, Andy Burnham, started a weekly column in the Evening Standard; again, blatantly laying the groundwork for a national leadership attempt post-mayoralty. With Yvette Cooper also refusing to deny leadership ambitions on Sunday, Guido reckons there are more than a few runners and riders secretly hoping Sir Keir loses the Batley & Spen by-election…