Lord Alan Sugar, as well as a brilliantly astute businessman is known as a philanthropist, who mentors and finances hardworking talent. He is trending on twitter right now, his comments on Sadiq Khan, the Labour Mayoral hopeful, in the Sunday Times already a sensation. Below, the famously blunt Lord Sugar gives the unvarnished truth about Khan. “I joined Labour in 1997 because it had shown it could be trusted with the economy. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown believed in a strong private sector. They knew you could afford to pay for good schools and a decent NHS only if you let businesses get on with delivering jobs and growth. Sure, the party had some loony lefties; one of them even became mayor of London. But with that one exception, they weren’t in a position to do any damage.
Then Labour lost power, and after almost five years of Ed Miliband the anti-business rot set in. It’s why I tore up my membership card after the general election. I did it long before Jeremy Corbyn was elected as the new leader. I, like many others, didn’t see him coming but, wow, was I right to run, never mind walk away. Now, under Corbyn, the lunatics have truly taken over the asylum. His ambition is to drag Britain back to the 1970s — union blackmail and three-day weeks, when our best and brightest were leaving the country in droves. Militants, Trots, anti-semites and terrorist sympathisers all seem to have been welcomed into Labour with open arms.
There is one politician who’s responsible for what’s happened to the party: Labour’s candidate for London mayor, Sadiq Khan. Khan ran Ed Miliband’s leadership campaign. He was in the room when Miliband turned on people like me, attacking the country’s largest employers as “predators”. So was Corbyn, who has called Britain’s businesses the real enemy.
Khan was one of the most senior Labour politicians to nominate Corbyn for leader. Without Khan’s endorsement, Corbyn would never have made it onto the ballot. He’s confirmed that Corbyn will be an asset to his campaign to become mayor, and admitted Corbyn’s supporters will help him get elected. Khan has not voted against Corbyn in parliament since Corbyn became leader.
The point is, no one should be fooled by Khan’s stance that he will be totally independent as mayor and not influenced by Corbyn. Amazingly, despite the crazy plans to print money to pay for public spending, and the Christmas card list that includes Hamas and the IRA, Khan says he has no regrets about helping Corbyn to the top job. Be under no illusion, they are two peas in a pod. Clearly not the dynamic duo of Batman and Robin; more like Laurel and Hardy.
I would say Khan has single-handedly wrecked the Labour party, and now he’s turning his finely honed judgment on the great city of London. Khan claims he’ll be the most pro-business mayor ever. He’s been touring City boardrooms trying to pass himself off as a successful entrepreneur. In fact his only claim to fame is that he helped run a legal aid firm that seems to have made most of its money from suing the police. No problem with that if there are justifiable reasons, but that, mainly, is his background — not business. Funnily enough, such “friends” of free enterprise as Ken Livingstone and the Socialist Workers’ party have given him their backing, and Corbyn’s private army of left-wing fanatics is out knocking on doors on his behalf.
You don’t pick up that kind of support if you’re offering sensible, realistic policies. So I thought I’d take a look at Khan’s plan for London . . . except it’s not a plan at all. It’s a wish list straight out of Corbyn and Livingstone’s little red book. He is claiming he can deliver a big programme of transport investment — new bridges, roads and railways — without costing passengers a penny. As a keen football supporter, the term “fantasy football” comes to my mind, though in Khan’s case it should be labelled “fantasy fare freeze”. He’s promising to magically freeze fares for four years. Transport for London has confirmed that the capital will face a £1.9bn black hole under Khan. The only way to fill that is by raising council tax for London households and spending less of the money raised from the tax on the police and other services.
Another genius idea relates to housing policy. This consists of asking developers to build new homes at a loss. Khan’s plan is to grant consent to developers only if they agree to build 50% as genuinely affordable housing. Well, this sounds all very nice, but it’s another false promise that won’t happen. Commercially it doesn’t work. Yes, you can introduce this new regulation but the effect will be that no development takes place, meaning no jobs for construction workers and no commercial incentive to employ a whole spectrum of staff. The bottom line is: 50% of nothing is nothing.
Khan is proposing to bring the unions into City Hall to help advise him on business. What do they know about business? It’s Groundhog Day all over again. Livingstone ran for election on an almost identical platform. The result was higher council tax, unions in the driving seat, housing targets missed, fares going up and a huge waste of taxpayers’ money.
Maybe I’m missing the point. As far as I can tell, Khan’s main offer to London voters isn’t his policies; it’s that he’s the Muslim son of a bus driver. OK, the boy’s done good – well done! I am a working-class Jewish boy from the East End, the son of a factory tailor who never knew where his next day of work was coming from. But that was not a reason why people invested in me and my public companies. In business you base your decisions on results and performance, not on a feelgood sob story from the person selling it.
London is the envy of the commercial world — one of the most famous trading cities on earth. It’s a central hub of business for so many companies both domestic and overseas. It is bad enough that we have the EU referendum debate making companies at home and abroad nervous. (By the way, this is nonsense — we must not leave.) We must not add more uncertainty and nervousness to the future of our great city by even contemplating placing it in the hands of Khan and his Corbyn-style policies.
On May 5 I would strongly urge Londoners not to vote for Khan.