Just what does the Shadow Minister for London do? The position of Minister for London was scrapped by the coalition when the governments changed in 2010. Labour leader Ed Miliband appointed Tooting MP Sadiq Khan to the shadow cabinet position in January this year, after Tessa Jowell had stepped down from the role following the Paralympics.
But we have a Mayor and an entire Assembly of representatives (not to mention the individual councils). So, yeah: what does the Shadow Minister actually do? Well, says Sadiq, he's trying to fulfil the role of opposite number to the Mayor, leading Labour in London. "I work with the Labour majority on the London Assembly to hold the Mayor to account," he explains. "I work with the 16 Labour-run Councils in London to help reduce the cost of living, build more houses and create more jobs, and together with our London MEPs I am working to get as much investment for London as possible from Brussels."
It's a quirk of the London Assembly set-up that while the political parties have spokespeople for various topics – James Cleverly for the Conservatives about fire, Val Shawcross for Labour on transport, etc – there isn't really one 'face' for the opposition in the way the Tories have Boris (or Labour used to have Ken). So Sadiq's aim is to fill that gap.
"I work closely with Len Duvall, head of the Labour Group, and my London Assembly colleagues," he says. "We don’t have the power to stop the Mayor increasing tube fares or reducing police numbers but we have made him back down on some of his worst ideas. We recently saved Clapham and New Cross fire stations by forcing Boris Johnson to ask residents what they thought of his plans. Londoners' voices were certainly heard and they completely rejected his plans.
"It’s not always about party politics though. I work with the Mayor when he does the right thing for Londoners. For example, I welcomed the work of the recent London Finance Commission, looking at how London can take more control over its own economic development. More financial powers for London would mean more jobs and opportunities for Londoners and that is something everyone wants."
What's heartening is to hear the born-and-bred Londoner's evident love for the city. When we ask him what we wants to achieve as Shadow Minister, he responds: "I believe London is the greatest city in the world and I want it to stay that way. For me, this means making sure ordinary Londoners are actually able to afford the benefits that living and working here brings. It’s tragic that the rising costs of transport, housing and energy mean that Londoners can less and less afford to enjoy the diverse array of culture, food, sport and arts that London offers. Turning this around is my top priority."