British-Pakistani Sadiq Khan, became the first ever Muslim Mayor of a major western capital last week after cruising to victory in the London Mayoral candidate race.
The 45-year-old son of a bus driver took 1,310,143 votes (57 per cent), after second preferences were taken into account, defeating Conservative’s Zac Goldsmith in second on 994,614 votes (46 per cent).
It was a campaign that resulted in the highest ever turnout of voters for the capital’s mayor, and speaking after his victory, Khan said he was incredibly proud.
“I want to thank every single Londoner for making the impossible possible,” he said. “I’m so proud that Londoners have today chosen hope over fear and unity over division.”
Khan’s comments came after his Tory rival, Goldsmith, was criticised for allegedly using Islamophobic tactics in his bid to win the Mayoral seat.
Without referencing him directly, Khan added that Labour had fought a ‘positive campaign’.
“Fear doesn’t make us safer, it only makes us weaker, and the politics of fear is simply not welcome in our city,” he added.
During Goldsmith’s campaign, leaflets were sent to Hindu, Sikh and Tamil voters which warned them that Khan was ‘dangerous’. Although not directly referencing that he was Muslim, several recipients noted that they felt it was an attempt to discredit the candidate due to his religion.
A separate letter also warned people that Labour ‘planned to tax gold jewellery’ – again seen as a move aimed at stocking community tensions.
Home Secretary, Theresa May, added that Khan’s election would be ‘unsafe’ at a time when the capital is facing a ‘real threat of terrorism’ because of his history of defending extremists when he was a human rights lawyer.
Goldsmith’s campaign was slammed by Conservative former Cabinet minister, Baroness Warsi, who labelled it an ‘appalling dog whistle campaign’ which had lost the party ‘the election, our reputation and credibility on issues of race and religion’.
Even the sister of Goldsmith, Jemima, tweeted: “Sad that Zac’s campaign did not reflect who I know him to be – an eco friendly, independent-minded politician with integrity.”
Khan’s tally of over one million votes gives him the largest personal mandate of any politician in UK history.
He has vowed to tackle the housing crisis in London during his time as Mayor, adding that public transport fares will be frozen for four years.
Other plans mentioned include making half of all new homes ‘genuinely affordable, pedestrianising Oxford Street, and restoring the capital’s air quality to a safe, legal level.