Sadiq Khan will be more than just a symbol - but he'd be great at that, too

Sadiq Khan has what it takes to win, says Keir Starmer. 

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London is a fantastically diverse and vibrant city and it’s an absolute privilege to represent in Parliament one small corner of it. I’m in my first couple of months as an MP it’s clear already the next five years are going to be a big struggle against the worst excesses of the Tory Government.

Our battles to defend Londoners against the Tory Government will be made easier if the city has a Mayor who sticks up for the city and all of its residents. That’s why next year’s Mayoral election is so important and that’s why we need a Labour Mayor.

I'm backing Sadiq Khan to be Labour’s candidate. Sadiq is a Londoner born and bred. His parents were immigrants from Pakistan in the 1960s. His dad drove a bus and his mum sewed clothes at home to make ends meet. Like so many waves of migrants before them, they came to this city to make a better life for them and their family.

And here in London they did just that. Brought up in a council estate in South London as one of 8 children, educated in local state schools and the University of North London, Sadiq has been able to fulfill his potential.

As a dynamic human rights lawyer, Sadiq made his name rooting out injustice and righting wrongs. He was never afraid to take on powerful vested interests in the government, the police or the prison service. This is precisely what we need in a Mayor.

I first came across Sadiq as a young lawyer when I was a barrister. Even then, I could see that Sadiq went the extra mile for his clients. He could have taken the easy option of working in the city but instead he opted for the unglamorous world of human rights, choosing to stand up for the vulnerable, the abused and the marginalised.

I've been heartened by his defence of the rule of law, access to justice and human rights. In the last parliament, he stood up for the Human Rights Act and our membership of the European Convention on Human Rights. These might not excite all voters but they're crucially important issues. Without these kinds of protections, it's the homeless, the unemployed, the elderly and victims of crime who'll suffer.

Our great city is famed the world over for its liberal tolerance of people of all faiths, colour and sexuality. It's what makes London the world's melting pot, the only truly global city. What better way to celebrate this than a Mayor that symbolises all that's good about London.

But Sadiq is way more than just a symbolic Mayor. Sadiq rolls up his sleeves and get stuck in. I've seen this in the way he campaigns - both for people's basic rights and freedoms, but in taking the fight to the Tories. I had the privilege of working with him in the last parliament on a crucial piece of work improving the experience of victims of crime. I’m delighted Sadiq has committed to bringing in many of the recommendations in London should he become Mayor.

Winning next year's Mayoral contest would make this the most powerful Labour politician in the country. Sadiq is ideally placed to take on this role and he his experience to stand up for Londoners against the worst excesses of the Tory Government. He'll bring a decency and fairness that is all too lacking in many of today's frontline politicians. That’s why he is my choice for Labour’s candidate, and I’ll do all I can to get him elected as the Labour Mayor London desperately needs.