UK Politics

Sadiq Khan tells Labour conference to focus on power

Sadiq Khan Image copyright Reuters

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has urged his Labour colleagues to focus on winning power and not retreat to a "comfort zone" in opposition.

In his conference speech, Mr Khan said Labour needed to be "not just talking the talk, but walking the walk too".

The winner of May's mayoral election used the word "power" 38 times in his speech, saying being in opposition would "never ever be good enough".

Mr Khan supported Owen Smith in his unsuccessful leadership bid.

Asked whether the winner of the contest, Jeremy Corbyn, could win a general election, he told the BBC: "Sure he can."

Labour could not be a "protest party", he said, adding that "we are not a party set up to make ourselves feel better".

"I just do not think we should have a situation where we are in our comfort zone being in opposition."

How Khan's speech went down

Gavin Stamp, BBC political reporter in Liverpool

Image copyright Getty Images

People streaming out of the hall have been giving their views on Sadiq Khan's speech.

Martin Hodges says it was a "good rallying call which went down very well" and hopes the message about the importance of being in power to get things done "will be carried through".

Aaron Rice says it was an "inspirational" address and it was "good to hear from someone who is actually in power for Labour".

But one other delegate says that while she enjoyed the speech, it had a "pretty unhelpful subtext" that some in Labour would rather be sitting on the sidelines than making decisions.

Mr Khan received a standing ovation after his speech, during which he said having Labour in power meant more affordable housing and transport, less polluted air and better pay and conditions for workers.

He said the scale of rough sleeping was a "stain on our nation" and vowed to clean up London's "filthy" air.

"The people who need us the most are those who suffer the most when Labour is not in power," he said.

Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Sadiq Khan - who backed Owen Smith - congratulated Jeremy Corbyn on winning the leadership contest

He hailed Labour's victory in the Bristol mayoral election and the party holding onto power in Wales, but added: "Labour is not in power in the place that we can have the biggest impact on our country - in Parliament.

"It's in government that Labour can make the biggest changes to people's lives, and every day now we see what happens when Labour's not in power."

He said government plans to expand grammar schools would "deepen inequality" and accused ministers of having "no plan" for how to leave the EU.

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