Now that the dust is starting to settle on Sadiq Khan’s victory in the race to be London’s Mayor, there are several lessons we can learn from the election.
Firstly, that the nudge, nudge, wink, wink campaign to portray him as a Muslim threat has fallen on deaf ears across London. The second, that the Tories really do have a problem when It comes to appealing to ethnic groups who don’t come from their older, white, middle class stronghold, especially the Muslim vote. While it’s not necessarily wise to vote for a candidate simply because he’s Muslim, as I’m sure, and know, many did, it’s also not wise to vote for a candidate just because he’s from the party you have always supported.
I’ve been and continue to be a Conservative supporter, however, you cannot expect to attract the Muslim vote or the vote of any group for that matter, by likening a candidate of that faith to a known terrorist, or trying to link that person to terror attacks that have nothing to do with them whatsoever. You also don’t attract the vote by distributing leaflets branding said candidate as a radical, regardless of what policy matter you are discussing, when you know full well what connotations that word has in the context of their religion in the minds of the wider public.
A campaign like the one run by Zac Goldsmith risks undoing years of good community relations work and outreach. For many Muslims now, the idea that they are welcome and wanted in politics has been well and truly disappeared. Who in their right mind would want to subject themselves and their family to the character assassination Khan has been through? And this coming from someone who is no fan of the union loving, big business hating, self-aggrandising new Mayor.
However, the hope lies in the fact that through all the mud-slinging, Londoners duly elected a Muslim Mayor. These local elections are usually seen as a way for the electorate to show their dissatisfaction with the government of the day. Perhaps in this case, London decided not to punish the Tories by voting them out, but by voting in a Labour Muslim to lead them, in spite of the campaign which served to warn them not to do so for these very reasons.
Tokenism and identity politics is a cheap game, played by both Goldsmith and Khan, but Londoners have proven that in the face of dirty politics, we’ll still see the truth through the dirt coming out of politicians mouths. Here’s hoping American’s will do the same in November should the worst actually happen and we see a Trump nomination at the GOP convention in July.
Enough has now been said on all this Muslim stuff, let’s judge Khan on his ability to deliver for London. Let’s not relate every failure to his faith, just as we didn’t relate every one of Boris’ failures on his Christian faith. Kahn should be held under the same microscope as every other politician, and when doing so, his policies don’t always add up. Time will tell whether he’ll be a great Mayor for London, after all, in some circles, the son of a bus driver from a stable family seems out of touch with their reality as much as an Etonian.