A Muslim Mayor of London – celebrating diversity
Although I’ve lived in Warsaw for many years now, I’m a Londoner by birth. On 5th May, residents of my home city elected a new Mayor, Sadiq Khan. His election is hugely significant as London is the first major European city to have a Muslim elected as mayor. This means London and Londoners can once more enjoy their status as a truly multicultural, diverse and inclusive place. Outside the UK, not much is known about Sadiq Khan apart from his religion, so this post will give you some useful info about who he really is and what he wants for London.
Who is Sadiq Khan?
Born in 1970 in South London, Sadiq Khan is the son of a taxi driver, and grew up on a council estate. These humble beginnings were talked about a lot during his campaign, showing him to be an “ordinary guy”. He studied law at university, and then specialised as a human rights lawyer. He was elected to Parliament as Labour MP for Tooting in South London in 2005, briefly serving in government.
How was he elected?
The London mayor (as well as some mayors in other UK cities) is elected by a different system to Members of Parliament, called the supplementary vote. Voters are asked to state a first and second preference among the candidates. After the polls close, the first preference votes for each candidate are added up. If a candidate has over 50% of first-preference votes, they are elected. If not, there is a second round, where only the top two candidates take part. The other candidates are eliminated. Then, the second-preference votes come into play. Whichever candidate has the most votes after this stage is elected.
Sadiq Khan, who was the Labour Party candidate, received over 1,500,000 votes overall, giving him the largest-ever mandate for any individual UK politician. He defeated the Conservative candidate, Zac Goldsmith, who was widely criticised by many (including some members of his own party) for running a divisive campaign which focused too much on Khan’s religion.
What are his plans for London? Travel, housing, and…
The UK capital faces two major problems at the moment: transport chaos and a lack of affordable housing. Those problems are right at the top of the list of things for the new Mayor to tackle. Khan made a much-publicised promise to freeze TfL (Transport for London) fares, which covers buses and the London Underground, until 2020. He would also like to see a 24-hour Underground service. As for housing, he wants to make 50% of new homes “affordable”, which would be very good news for first-time buyers, who currently have huge trouble finding a home to buy. Finally, in light of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels, Khan will be expected to show that he can keep London safe. He plans to review how the emergency services tackle major incidents.
Other Sadiq Khan facts
Sadiq Khan will be Mayor for a four-year term. He succeeds Conservative Boris Johnson, who had been Mayor since 2008. Khan is a big football fan. Although coming from London, he is a supporter of Liverpool Football Club. He comes from a large family, having six brothers and one sister. He is married and has two daughters.
Over to you
So now you can impress your friends and colleagues with your new-found knowledge about London’s new Mayor. I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing Sadiq Khan the very best of luck in his new job!