Labour's Sadiq Khan Beats Zac Goldsmith to Become London's First Muslim Mayor

Though Labour suffers losses across country, party candidate defeats Conservative rival who tried to link him to extremism, secures a much needed victory for his party.

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Britain's Labour party candidate for London Mayor Sadiq Khan reacts as he canvasses for supporters at a market in London on May 4, 2016.
Britain's Labour party candidate for London Mayor Sadiq Khan reacts as he canvasses for supporters at a market in London on May 4, 2016.Credit: Justin Tallis / AP

Sadiq Khan, the son of a bus driver, became London's first Muslim mayor on Friday, seeing off a Conservative challenger who attempted to link him to extremism and securing a much-needed victory for his opposition Labour Party.

As New York mayor Bill de Blasio sent his congratulations, Khan had yet to receive official notification of his victory, which would go some way to soothing the wounds of Labour which suffered losses in Thursday's other local elections.

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 challenge.

Corbyn's woes were increased in recent weeks by the surge of anti-Semitism within Labour’s ranks, crowned by his old friend and left-wing stalwart ex-London Mayor Ken Livingstone’s bizarre historical revisionism that Adolf Hitler supported Zionism before “he went mad.” It is impossible to accurately assess how much damage this caused Labour, but at least in two constituencies which include Jewish communities, the party suffered losses.

Eastwood, a constituency of the Scottish parliament, which was held by Labour since its establishment in 1999, was won by the Conservatives. Eastwood contains the suburbs of Glasgow, which are home to Scotland’s largest Jewish community.

Further south, in Manchester, the influence of the Jewish vote is even clearer. Sedgley reported a statistical swing from Labour to the conservatives by a massive 21.3 percent – this very clearly indicates that the Jewish voters turned out to punish Labour.

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.

A source close to the count said Khan could not now be beaten in the race. De Blasio said on Twitter: "Sending congratulations to London's new mayor and fellow affordable housing advocate, @SadiqKhan."

Khan's margin of victory looked set to be narrower than expected in a possible sign that a bitter campaign marred by charges of anti-Semitism and extremism and charges of anti-Semitism in Labour ranks might have taken its toll.

The Labour lawmaker replaces Conservative Boris Johnson, who has run 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 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 Khan.

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 a 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 Reuters.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


בנימין נתניהו השקת ספר

Netanyahu’s Israel Is About to Slam the Door on the Diaspora

עדי שטרן

Head of Israel’s Top Art Academy Leads a Quiet Revolution

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

Skyscrapers in Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv.

Israel May Have Caught the Worst American Disease, New Research Shows

ג'אמיל דקוור

Why the Head of ACLU’s Human Rights Program Has Regrets About Emigrating From Israel


Netanyahu’s Election Win Dealt a Grievous Blow to Judaism