Sadiq Khan becomes first Muslim who won London mayoral
election, Labour Party, London’s first Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, Zac
Goldsmith,Conservative , London Elections
Sadiq Khan, the son of a bus driver, became London’s first
Muslim mayor on Saturday, seeing off a Conservative challenger who attempted to
link him to extremism and securing a much-needed win for his opposition Labour
Khan’s victory, which also makes him the first Muslim to head
a major Western capital, was confirmed shortly after midnight inside London’s
futuristic glass and steel city hall following a day of mixed news for Labour
in elections elsewhere in the country.
Dealt a crushing blow in Scotland, where it came third behind
the Scottish National Party and Britain’s ruling Conservatives, Labour did
better than expected in England, saving its left-leaning leader from an early
But the big prize was the London mayor vote, which pitted Khan,
45, who grew up in public housing in inner city London, against Conservative
Zac Goldsmith, 41, the son of a billionaire financier.
“This election was not without controversy and I am so
proud that London has today chosen hope over fear and unity over division,”
Khan said in a short speech after the results.
“I hope that we will never be offered such a stark
choice again. Fear does not make us safer, it only makes us weaker and the
politics of fear is simply not welcome in our city.”
Plaudits for Khan flooded in from as far afield as New York,
whose mayor Bill de Blasio said on Twitter: “Sending congratulations to
London’s new mayor and fellow affordable housing advocate, @SadiqKhan.”
Khan’s 13.6 percent margin of victory over Goldsmith was the
widest in a London mayoral election in 16 years, showing that a bitter campaign
marred by accusations that Khan had links to extremists and charges of
anti-Semitism within Labour ranks had failed to deter his voters.
The Labour lawmaker replaces Conservative Boris Johnson, who
ran the city of 8.6 million people for eight years. A top campaigner for
Britain to leave the EU, Johnson is seen as a contender to succeed David
Cameron as party leader and prime minister.
The Conservatives were keen to keep hold of the post, which
does not run the City of London financial district but has influence over
government in lobbying for the capital. The mayor is responsible for areas such
as policing, transport, housing and the environment.
Khan, looking exhausted after a much delayed result, made an
emotional speech referencing his Pakistani father, who he said would have been
“proud that the city he chose to call his home, has now chosen one of his
children to be the mayor.”
Khan held his lead in the opinion polls, despite accusations
by Goldsmith that he has shared platforms with radical Muslim speakers and
given “oxygen” to extremists.
Khan says he has fought extremism all his life and that he
regrets sharing a stage with speakers who held “abhorrent” views. The
Labour Party accused Goldsmith and the ruling Conservative Party of smearing
Goldsmith denied the charge, saying he had raised legitimate
questions over his opponent’s judgment – but the tactics do seem to have
backfired, with some voters interviewed by Reuters saying they found the
campaign “disgusting and slimy”.
While fighting those charges, Khan, a former human rights
lawyer, also distanced himself from the newly elected Labour leader, Jeremy
Corbyn, after a row over anti-Semitism.
The Labour leader ordered an inquiry into charges of
anti-Semitism after suspending Ken Livingstone, a political ally and a former
London mayor, for saying Adolf Hitler had supported Zionism.
The impact of the crisis was difficult to gauge in the
election of more than 2,700 local officials and new devolved authorities in
Scotland and Wales.
Compared to the last regional elections in 2011, Labour’s
share of the vote was down 9.2 percent in Scotland and 7.6 percent in Wales,
allowing a strong showing for the anti-EU UK Independence Party before a
referendum on membership of the bloc on June 23.
But, with fewer losses in England than expected, Corbyn was
able to rally enough support to prevent an early challenge.
Corbyn, who was elected as party leader last year on a wave
of enthusiasm for change and an end to ‘establishment politics’ among mostly
younger members, welcomed some of the results and said he would fight to
re-establish Labour in Scotland.
“We hung on and we grew support in a lot of
places,” he said.
But he did little to quell criticism of his leadership in a
party which has moved from crisis to crisis, the latest the row over
anti-Semitism forcing Corbyn to suspend Livingstone.
Richard Angell, director of Labour activist group Progress,
said the party had to refocus on issues that concern voters.
“Corbyn need to shake up his operation, kick out Ken
Livingstone as a first step to nailing the anti-Semitism problem and focus on
voter-friendly policy,” he told