HOW nice of the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to bless Camden with a visit yesterday. He was at the Abbey Road Estate looking at new homes produced by the Community Investment Programme. It was an easy win-win set piece for the Labour mayor and the Labour council.
Sadly, the mayor’s schedule has yet to find room for a public visit to Kentish Town, where friends and family of those bereaved by the Camden murders a year ago had wanted him to come. Presumably, council leader Georgia Gould – Kentish Town is her ward – took the time to extend another invitation to him during their time together on Thursday.
A good opportunity may have just been missed; for it would have been impossible for the city’s Mayor to not have picked up on the lasting feeling at the recent public meeting on the issue, held close to the anniversary of that terrible, bloody evening. There, he would have heard of the need for better representation in our politics from the communities most affected and of the sometimes fragile relationship between police and young people in Camden. There’s lots to learn if we are going to see knife crime conquered in London.
Of course, when we asked Mr Khan why he had not visited NW5 in the aftermath of the murders, he said: “I think it’s inappropriate, I say this to you on the record, for a journalist to try to make political capital out of a family grieving,” adding: “I’ve met many families in the last two years, I’ve been to many funerals and I’ll continue to do so, not because I want to make the Camden New Journal happy, but because it’s important as the Mayor that I understand some of the pain families are going through.” It’s never been clear what kind of ‘political capital’ he thought the CNJ was trying to secure; we’re not standing for election. We were just passing on a genuine request from people who were – and still are – tormented by that night.
We must not hold a grudge for his comments about the paper. On the contrary, we’d still love for Mr Khan to come to Kentish Town for an interview, and also ,eet those picking up the pieces in the aftermath of February 20 last year. Naturally, the same applies to anybody else who is putting themselves forward to be the city’s mayor next year and can say they have fresh ideas about how to stop the stabbings.