Newly elected London Mayor’s opening words at his swearing-in ceremony – “Good Morning, I’m Sadiq Khan, and I’m the Mayor of London” – were drowned in claps and whistles by the audience at the Southwark Cathedral in London.
Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim Mayor of London, has promised to “lead the most transparent, engaged and representative council London has ever seen”.
The 44-year old human rights lawyer of Pakistani descent, who is not only the first Muslim head of London, but set a record by winning 1.1 million votes, has vowed to be fair to all and ensure that London is repackaged in the most dynamic manner.
Khan’s lead over his closest rival was bigger than that achieved by both his predecessors Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone. With a 45 per cent election turnout, he finished with a margin of 13.6 percentage points over Zac Goldsmith of the Conservative Party.
Warmly acknowledging the introduction made by Doreen Lawrence, the mother of the British teenager Stephen Lawrence who was killed in a racist attack in London in 1993, Mr. Khan promised to lead a truly representative council in London.
He harked back to his humble beginnings “So you better know this but I grew up in a council estate,” and said he achieved what he never dreamt of because of the opportunities and “helping hand” the city offered him and his family. Promising a “better” London, he pledged to give all Londoners the opportunities that he was offered.
Mr. Khan led an energetic campaign that was turned increasingly toxic by the personal attacks and slander levelled against him by his opponent, the billionaire Mr. Goldsmith, including the smear that he shared platforms with extremists in the past.
Mr. Goldsmith’s campaign, which started with a focus on green and sustainable solutions to city issues, rapidly descended into racism and divisiveness. His piece in the Daily Mail four days before the elections made the schism between him and his opponent unbreachable. He warned that with a Labour victory “we will have handed control of the Met, and with it control over national counter-terrorism policy, to a party whose candidate and current leadership have, whether intentionally or not, repeatedly legitimised those with extremist views.”
There was mounting criticism even within the Conservative Party to Mr. Goldsmith’s campaign. Andrew Boff, a former Conservative member of the London Assembly, told Newsnight that Mr. Goldsmith’s tactic of painting religious conservatives as “extremists” had alienated the party from the city’s ethnic minority voters.
Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn’s absence at Mr. Khan’s swearing-in has led to speculation of an increasingly frosty relationship between the two.
Mr. Khan, a practising Muslim, is a liberal who received death threats from extremists for his support for the legalisation of gay marriage in 2013.