Sadiq Khan, the Labour MP famous for being closely associated with a convicted terrorist, has climbed eight points’ polls for the London Labour Mayoral nomination. He has climbed from 11 percent in December to 19 percent, putting him in second place behind the former Olympic Minister Jessa Jowell, according to YouGov.
Khan campaigned for the release of Babar Ahmed as he fought extradition to the USA for eight years. Both men are from Tooting and Khan is accused of having been friends who Ahmed, who ultimately pleaded guilty to “conspiracy and providing material to support to terrorism” and is serving twelve and a half years in a US prison.
The relationship between the two first became a matter of public debate in 2008 when it was revealed anti-terror police bugged one of their meetings. It had taken place when Ahmed was in a British prison fighting his extradition.
Ahmed was never thought to be violent but he did use his position as an IT expert at the prestigious Imperial College, London to raise money for Al-Qaeda. He operated the now defunct Azzam.com family of websites, established to spread jihad in 1996. At one time he was seen as a pivotal figure in the project to radicalise young British Muslims.
Ahmed is believed to have been friends with Khan since they were teenagers, although details of their relationship have now been erased from the MP’s website.
Khan is currently Shadow Justice Secretary and Shadow Minister for London, if Labour were elected his post would involve overseeing the criminal justice system. This includes the UK government’s policy on prosecution of terrorists. Khan had the London brief added because of his close relationship with Labour Leader Ed Miliband, and was widely seen as an endorsement for the Mayoralty.
Tessa Jowell is currently polling 26 percent, but if Khan’s popularity continues to grow he will easily take over her by the time of the selection. Tanya Abraham of YouGov told the Evening Standard: “Sadiq Khan and Margaret Hodge have both seen a rise in popularity amongst Labour supporters over the past month and now hold stronger positions in the London mayoral contest.
“Whether they can maintain this level of support remains to be unseen.”
His growth in popularity has come at the expense of Diane Abbott, who has fallen from 20 percent before Christmas to 12 percent in January. Whoever wins the nomination will challenge for the Mayoralty in May 2016.
The post is currently held by Boris Johnson but he will not contest the position as he has been selected for the Parliamentary seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip.