Zac Goldsmith and Sadiq Khan
Labour front runner for City Hall spoke to IBTimes UK about housing in London and life opportunitiesGetty

Labour's Sadiq Khan is the son of a bus driver who rose from his council estate background to become the front runner in the Mayor of London election. The Tooting MP is pitted against Conservative hopeful and Old Etonian millionaire Zac Goldsmith in a two-horse race for City Hall.

But Khan told IBTimes UK that he does not want Londoners to vote for his working-class credentials or against his rival's privileged upbringing when they go to the polls on 5 May.

"None of us are responsible for our background. The reason why I talk about my background is because that's what motivates me, and I feel very strongly about today's Londoners missing out on the chances that we had," the Labour candidate stressed.

"The deal has also been with Londoners that you work hard and get a helping hand. Today, there isn't a helping hand. I don't want it to be about class or background.

"It's not Zac Goldsmith's fault who is family is, nor is it my fault who my family are. It should be a campaign based on policies, based on who's got a vision for addressing the issues we have."

Instead, Khan wants to turn the election into a referendum on housing, drawing on rising rents and excruciating house prices in the capital. But Goldsmith and the Conservatives have repeatedly claimed a Mayor Khan would allow Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to try out economic "experiments" on London.

Conservative attack advertisement on Khan
Conservative attack advertisement on Khan

IBTimes UK asked Khan if the electorate would vote on Corbyn and Labour's national policies in the election. "Mayoral elections, not just in London but around the world, should be about the candidates who are standing," he said.

"It shouldn't be a referendum on how popular or unpopular the government is, what it should be about is which candidate has the best policies to address the issues the city is facing.

"I am hoping that the election will obviously be a referendum on the Tory housing crisis, but which of the candidates has the experience, the values and the vision to be the best Mayor of London."

The comments come after Khan launched an attack against Goldsmith and the government's housing policies, which he branded "ludicrous". In particular, the Labour hopeful claimed the Starters Home initiative – of offering a discount on properties worth up to £450,000 ($639,697) – is out of reach to most Londoners.

Khan cited research from homelessness charity Shelter, which showed households need to earn £77,000 to afford the average "Starter Home" in London. But a spokesman for Goldsmith hit back at the Labour hopeful by attacking his "fantasy targets".

"The only way to lower prices is to build more homes – and the only way that is possible is with a mayor who can work with the government to unlock the land we need while keeping London's economy strong," the spokesman declared.

"The choice on 5 May is between Zac's Action Plan for Greater London which will deliver 50,000 houses and Khan's fantasy targets that would cut housebuilding."

The latest opinion poll from Opinium, of more than 1,000 people between 30 March and 3 April, put Khan eight points ahead of Goldsmith in the second round of voting (54% versus 46%).