Sadiq Khan's win in London significant

Sadiq Khan’s victory in London’s mayoral elections is a milestone in the politics of the western world. A British-born son of Pakistani immigrant parents, Khan is Muslim. He is Britain’s first Muslim mayor, indeed he is the first Muslim mayor of a major city in the West. His victory is all the more significant as it comes at a time when the world in general and Europe in particular is engulfed in Islamophobia. Khan’s rival in the election, Zac Goldsmith, carried out a dangerous and divisive campaign, painting Khan to be a Muslim radical with close ties to religious extremists. His speeches dwelt on future scenarios of Muslim migrants dominating British politics and the dangers that this supposedly poses to Britain’s security. It is heartening that Londoners ignored Goldsmith’s fear-mongering and attempt at dividing them along religious and racial lines. Some have attributed Khan’s victory to the solid support he received from Muslims who constitute 12% of London’s population. While it is possible that Muslims and other immigrants voted for him in large numbers, his impressive credentials – he studied law, taught at a university, is the chairman of a civil liberties group and was elected to Parliament in 2005 – are likely to have attracted voters too. Unlike Goldsmith who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, Khan has struggled in life and understands better the problems of the average Londoner.
With Khan’s victory, the Labour Party is back in the saddle in London’s local government. The win will be a morale-booster to the party. A rift between Khan and the Labour Party president Jeremy Corbyn is evident; Khan is opposed to Corbyn’s extreme left positions and wants the party to appeal to voters beyond its core support base. Corbyn would do well to heed the advice of Khan for Labour to build on its London gains.
As mayor of London, Khan has an opportunity not only to improve Labour’s electoral prospects nation-wide – his is a high profile job that would capture the attention of voters outside the capital – but in providing London with governance with a difference. He has promised to make London “fairer and more equal.” Hitherto, Khan has taken positions that go against the Muslim stereotype. He is an advocate of gay marriage, for instance, and recently criticised Corbyn for not addressing anti-Semitism in the party. He must go further to break other negative stereotypes of Muslims. His term as mayor will be challenging as hardliners on all sides will be waiting for him to slip. 

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