Sadiq Khan has published a book entitled Breathe. It is partly biographical and partly a polemic about air pollution and climate change.
He explains how he became interested in air pollution in London after training for the London marathon and developing “late-onset” asthma. He blames it solely on London’s poor air quality in the streets on which he trained.
He also covers the case of Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah but misreports what the coroner said about the cause of her death. Air pollution was probably a contributory factor as she lived near the South Circular which is very heavily polluted but certainly not the sole cause.
He also makes inaccurate comments about the Blackwall Tunnel suggesting that the bends in the tunnel were designed so that horses did not bolt for the exit when they saw the daylight. I have seen this allegation about the Rotherhithe Tunnel which also has sharp bends but I doubt it is true. Wikipedia says the Blackwall tunnel has bends in order that the tunnel could align with Northumberland Wharf to the north and Ordnance Wharf to the south, and avoid a sewer underneath Bedford Street.
The book attempts to link air pollution to action on climate change but does not provide any evidence to support that. Indeed the book is short on supporting data and is hardly a scientific exposition of the issues.
Neither does Sadiq Khan look at the economic cost of his policies and why a lot of the justification was the need to bail out TfL by raising taxes via such schemes as the ULEZ. He claims that the ULEZ had a major impact on the air pollution in London while ignoring the impact of central Government policies, the improvements to vehicles and the impact of the pandemic on reducing traffic.
But he does explain how scaring the population by emphasising the negative health impacts of air pollution has helped him to win election.
On the issue of LTNs, he alleges that the vocal public opposition has been stimulated by hostile media while arguing the bulk of residents support them. How wrong he is!
He covers his recent alleged heart attack in Glasgow and it’s difficult not to conclude from the length he spends on his medical problems that he is a hypochondriac.
The book will only be of interest to those who want an explanation of how Sadiq Khan got elected as Mayor of London by scaremongering about air pollution and climate change. But he does point out the weaknesses and mistakes of his opponents. Hopefully new candidates can learn from this book.
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