Onkar Sahota with Sadiq Kahn
November 22, 2023
An ally of Sadiq Khan has been told he cannot keep his City Hall job after next year’s mayoral election.
Dr Onkar Sahota, assembly member (AM) for Ealing and Hillingdon, had been hoping to stay as Labour’s candidate for the seat in 2024.
The Local Democracy Reporting Service has been told however that the party has decided not to include Dr Sahota on its shortlist of candidates for the constituency.
Despite the fact that sitting AMs are usually included on shortlists, the regional party’s view is that his exclusion from the list does not break Labour’s rules and procedures.
Dr Sahota declined to comment. The AM has held the seat for Labour since 2012 and currently serves as the Assembly’s deputy chair.
The two candidates to have made the shortlist to replace Dr Sahota as the party’s candidate are Ealing councillors Jasbir Anand and Bassam Mahfouz.
Both are cabinet members on the borough authority. Ms Anand holds the brief for tackling inequality and Mr Mahfouz for safe and genuinely affordable homes.
Voting among party members in Ealing and Hillingdon will take place in early December.
Both candidates have launched campaign websites and published videos urging members to vote for them.
Dr Sahota was initially put forward for ‘full selection’ after losing the backing of several local Labour activists in a series of critical votes.
It is thought that some of those who had lost confidence in him were opposed to Mr Khan’s widening of the ultra low emission zone to the Greater London boundary in August.
Dr Sahota has supported the move, saying he believes “history will show” that the mayor was right to expand the clean air zone, while acknowledging concerns about its financial impact.
Ms Anand says on her website that one of her priorities is “to ensure we do more to support low income families hit by ULEZ”.
Ealing and Hillingdon is the most marginal Labour-held constituency on the Assembly. In 2021, Dr Sahota won 40.8 per cent of the vote, with the Conservatives close behind on 36.9 per cent.
Until 2012, the seat had been held by Tory Richard Barnes, who was a deputy mayor during Boris Johnson’s time in City Hall.
The area contains Mr Johnson’s former parliamentary constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip, where the Tories achieved a surprise victory in a July by-election after campaigning hard against the expanded ULEZ.
All 25 seats on the London Assembly are up for re-election on May 2, 2024, at the same time as the mayoral elections. Assembly members earn £60,416 a year and, like the mayor, normally serve a four-year term.
Noah Vickers - Local Democracy Reporter