London Mayor Sadiq Khan visited Hounslow on Saturday, supporting Ruth Cadbury. A little band of Labour loyalists gathered to go campaigning door to door. Before they set off he gave a rallying speech and they took selfies. Then it was the turn of the media – a rag tail assortment of local film crews and an eight year old boy, who read three questions which Sadiq answered patiently before saying “thank you and thank you for being a journalist”.
Then it was my turn. I asked him what he thought of the Labour manifesto. He gave me a very safe answer mentioning all the uncontroversial bits, like the desire to remain in the single market and pointing out that neither of us had yet seen the manifesto as it had only been leaked. He didn’t touch on plans to re-nationalise rail services, energy and the Royal Mail or to scrap tuition fees, so I asked him whether he was in favour of re-nationalising rail. At which point his two minders from Labour Party HQ swung in to action, the man shouldering his way between us and guiding Sadiq away from me with a little gentle pressure on his shoulder, the woman batting our microphone away and wagging her finger in my face: “One question only” (not something which had been mentioned previously).
It crossed my mind to complain that the child had asked three questions, but not wanting to look churlish and pathetic, I held my peace. But I was shocked that so senior a figure as Sadiq was not allowed to speak for himself and that he acquiesced so readily. At some point soon all the Labour heavyweights are going to have to say where they stand on the manifesto. After it’s published today there will be no hiding. No selfie with a smiling Mayor for me. Nor did he thank me for being a journalist. Hey ho.