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The Tories Still Want to Abolish the Human Rights Act - and London Will Be Worse Off as a Result

12/08/2015 18:11 BST | Updated 12/08/2016 10:59 BST

London is a fantastic city - the architecture, the museums, the restaurants, and the people who live in it. But, in my view, what makes it special is the openness and tolerance of the city to people, ideas and trade. It's this openness to the world that London has been built on for centuries. It's why my parents came here to make a better life for them and their family.

This tolerance and respect is rooted in the UK's long history of fighting for freedoms and liberties. Progress we've made on rights and equality owes a considerable debt of gratitude to many groups and campaigns, including the Tolpuddle Martyrs, Chartists, Levellers and Sufragettes.

And we're famed the world over for our commitment to the rule of law and to guaranteeing people's fundamental liberties like free speech, privacy, and right to a fair trial. It's why Magna Carta is as well known abroad as here in the UK.

Here in London we've faced battles with tyranny and terrorism that sought to destroy all we believe in. Yet, time and again, the city remained steadfast and united as we defended our liberties and freedoms. Today, modern London has developed an amazing spirit for fair play and decency. We won't tolerate injustice and discrimination. In part, it's because we are forced to live cheek by jowl. London has, until recently, avoided the hollowing out and social cleansing seen in other global cities.

My career has been spent on the side of those suffering injustice. I chose to be a lawyer taking on some of the more unfashionable cases like workplace bulling, deaths in custody and discrimination. I have seen first hand how our legal system has protected Londoners when they've been trampled under foot by the state. Having successfully taken cases in our tribunals and courts as well as the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, I know how people's lives are better off for the protection it provides.

As an MP, and as Shadow Justice Secretary, I railed against cuts to legal aid, holding court cases in secret and the watering down of key constitutional rights like judicial review. I spent the last few years passionately defending the Human Rights Act and our membership of the European Convention on Human Rights. It isn't fashionable, it isn't glamorous, but I do this because I believe that people - including Londoners - are all the better for having protections in law for people's fundamental rights.

Londoners might not realise it, but they've benefited from the Human Rights Act in many ways, from improved treatment of victims of crime to the way the elderly are treated in care homes. But some more specific instances where the Act has been used in London include the victims of the Lakanal House blaze in Camberwell. Without a wide-ranging inquest only possible because of the Act, the families would never have found about the failures that led to the loss of their loved ones.

Similarly, the victims of the Black Cab rapist John Worboys, who weren't believed by the police when they reported the attacks, successfully sued for compensation using the Human Rights Act.

These are just a few specific, but there are countless more where Londoners have benefited. And it's for this reason why I will continue to defend the Human Rights Act against threats to abolish it by the Tories.

For me, these kinds of issues go to the very heart of why I'm in politics. It's about doing what you believe in, no matter how difficult or awkward. It's why I passionately opposed the Iraq war, and it's why I voted against legislation that would have seen people held without trial for 90 days. Casually trading away our precious freedoms in the face of the threat of terrorism hands victory to those who want to undermine all that we stand for.

If I'm Mayor of London, I want to bring this same kind of passion for people's fundamental rights to City Hall. I can't speak for the other candidates but for me, it's a no brainer - it's part of who I am. I want to be the leader of this great city who gets why it's important we have the right to protest and to free speech, we have the right to a fair trial, and we have the right to privacy.

None of those detracts one jot from the other priority of a Mayor - to keep the people of London safe. I'll be the Mayor who'll make sure our police look like the city they are charged with keeping safe, and that they have the resources they need to do their very difficult job. We must remain vigilant of all threats against us.

But this can be achieved while remaining a beacon of openness and fairness, showing the rest of the world what a tolerant diverse society looks like. What sort of example does removing people's fundamental rights set, especially in those places where they are already lacking? Fighting terror does not automatically mean we must forfeit our freedoms.

I bring something unique to the job, something no other candidate for Mayor can bring - my track record and passion for standing up for people's rights, as a politician and a lawyer. And by doing so, I'm able to bring communities together under the banner of mutual respect and tolerance. London deserves nothing less.

Rt. Hon Sadiq Khan MP is the Labour MP for Tooting and is standing to be Labour's candidate for the 2016 Mayor of London election. http://sadiq.london/