New York mayor Bill de Blasio meets with shadow London minister Sadiq Khan before addressing the Labour conference in Manchester.
Show Hide image

Exclusive: Bill de Blasio and Sadiq Khan meet to discuss fight against inequality

New York mayor met the shadow London minister for 45 minutes before he addressed the Labour conference. 

Bill de Blasio, New York's first Democratic mayor since 1993, was the star turn on the final day of the Labour conference, delivering a well-received speech on the global fight against inequality.

Before addressing the conference, I can reveal that de Blasio met for 45 minutes with shadow London minister and shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan. A source told me that the pair discussed plans to tackle rising inequality in London and New York and how to make politics more relevant to people's lives. De Blasio invited Khan, who is often spoken of as a potential future London mayor, to visit him and see the progress his administration has made. 

Khan has long described inequality as the biggest challenge facing London, making it one of the central issues of Labour's election campaign in the capital last May (where it enjoyed its best results since 1998). In a speech at the GMB conference in June, he said: "Growing inequality is a global problem seen across the world. And the forces of conservatism will fight tooth and nail to protect their vested interests. We will need everyone who believes that inequality is a problem working alongside us."

But while Khan has publicly expressed interest in becoming de Blasio's equivalent in London ("If the ball came loose at the edge of the box and I thought I had the best chance of scoring a goal I'd probably shoot," he has said), he is not planning to follow David Lammy in declaring his candidacy before the general election. A source recently told me: "Sadiq is working his socks off to get Ed Miliband elected Prime Minister. He will continue to focus all his effort on winning 12 extra seats in London as shadow London minister and articulating Labour's radical alternative to the government's prison crisis as shadow justice secretary."

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Getty
Show Hide image

The economics of outrage: Why you haven't seen the end of Katie Hopkins

Her distasteful tweet may have cost her a job at LBC, but this isn't the last we've seen of Britain's biggest troll. 

Another atrocity, other surge of grief and fear, and there like clockwork was the UK’s biggest troll. Hours after the explosion at the Manchester Arena that killed 22 mostly young and female concert goers, Katie Hopkins weighed in with a very on-brand tweet calling for a “final solution” to the complex issue of terrorism.

She quickly deleted it, replacing the offending phrase with the words “true solution”, but did not tone down the essentially fascist message. Few thought it had been an innocent mistake on the part of someone unaware of the historical connotations of those two words.  And no matter how many urged their fellow web users not to give Hopkins the attention she craved, it still sparked angry tweets, condemnatory news articles and even reports to the police.

Hopkins has lost her presenting job at LBC radio, but she is yet to lose her column at Mail Online, and it’s quite likely she won’t.

Mail Online and its print counterpart The Daily Mail have regularly shown they are prepared to go down the deliberately divisive path Hopkins was signposting. But even if the site's managing editor Martin Clarke was secretly a liberal sandal-wearer, there are also very good economic reasons for Mail Online to stick with her. The extreme and outrageous is great at gaining attention, and attention is what makes money for Mail Online.

It is ironic that Hopkins’s career was initially helped by TV’s attempts to provide balance. Producers could rely on her to provide a counterweight to even the most committed and rational bleeding-heart liberal.

As Patrick Smith, a former media specialist who is currently a senior reporter at BuzzFeed News points out: “It’s very difficult for producers who are legally bound to be balanced, they will sometimes literally have lawyers in the room.”

“That in a way is why some people who are skirting very close or beyond the bounds of taste and decency get on air.”

But while TV may have made Hopkins, it is online where her extreme views perform best.  As digital publishers have learned, the best way to get the shares, clicks and page views that make them money is to provoke an emotional response. And there are few things as good at provoking an emotional response as extreme and outrageous political views.

And in many ways it doesn’t matter whether that response is negative or positive. Those who complain about what Hopkins says are also the ones who draw attention to it – many will read what she writes in order to know exactly why they should hate her.

Of course using outrageous views as a sales tactic is not confined to the web – The Daily Mail prints columns by Sarah Vine for a reason - but the risks of pushing the boundaries of taste and decency are greater in a linear, analogue world. Cancelling a newspaper subscription or changing radio station is a simpler and often longer-lasting act than pledging to never click on a tempting link on Twitter or Facebook. LBC may have had far more to lose from sticking with Hopkins than Mail Online does, and much less to gain. Someone prepared to say what Hopkins says will not be out of work for long. 

0800 7318496