Londoners go to the polls on Thursday to choose a replacement for the outgoing Mayor, Boris Johnson MP. Despite the fact the Labour Party is currently mired in an anti-Semitism scandal, if all things remain equal, expect the party’s candidate Sadiq Khan MP to be confirmed in the early hours of Friday morning.
Mr. Khan, 45, has had a successful career in the Labour Party, being elected to parliament in 2005, becoming a Minister of State in 2008 with a promotion in 2009. He was a Shadow Secretary of State for Justice from 2010-15, and has been running for London Mayor since then.
In fact, as I predicted in January, the polls have changed very little since the beginning of the year. This is despite a negative-ad onslaught by the Conservative Party and its candidate Zac Goldsmith – the multi-millionaire son of Eurosceptic royalty Sir James Goldsmith, and brother of socialite and Vanity Fair editor Jemima Khan.
Mr. Goldsmith and his ‘Back Zac’ campaign have used the last few months to highlight Sadiq Khan’s proximity to Islamic extremists, extremism, and this past weekend, to anti-Semitism.
But perhaps it speaks to the mindset of Londoners, and certainly the British capital’s demographic shift, that such news has scarcely affected Mr. Khan.
In January, a YouGov poll put Mr. Goldsmith on 35 to Mr. Khan’s 45 per cent. When you take into account London’s supplementary voting system, the numbers after the second preference votes are counted ended up 45-55 to Mr. Khan.
Last week, that number stood at 40-6o to Mr. Khan. After second preference votes, the extremist-adjacent candidate has a 20 point poll lead.
While last week’s events – when one of Mr. Khan’s most prominent backers Ken Livingstone was implicated in a Hitler/anti-Semitism scandal – may serve to keep some of Mr. Khan’s voters at home, it is hard to imagine the Conservatives overturning such a drastic poll lead.
A MUSLIM MAYOR?
Polling suggests some people are nervous about having someone like Mr. Khan near an office that wields so much power, responsibility, and cash.
Private conversations with Westminster insiders often see Lutfur Rahman – the former Mayor of Tower Hamlets – raised as another example of a prominent Muslim mayor.
Mr. Rahman was removed from office, accused by critics of playing sectarian politics with the area’s Muslim population, of backing Islamists, and of distributing tax payer cash to his favoured Muslim groups to secure their support.
Mr. Rahman was found guilty of “corrupt and illegal practices” – and has perhaps set back the plight of the few, integrated British Muslims in elected life. He – alongside politicians like Humza Yousaf, Sayeeda Warsi, Rushanara Ali, Shabana Mahmood, Yasmin Qureshi, Amjad Bashir, Naz Shah, and Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh – have created a deep distrust between British voters and Muslim politicians.
In fact one third of Londoners remain suspicious of having a Muslim Mayor, and the likes of Sajid Javid or Syed Kamall suffer because of their co-religionists’ insistence on fellow-travelling with extremists, if not holding extremist views themselves.
And Mr. Khan can hardly claim a clean record. Mr. Goldsmith’s attacks are not without basis, though they have been shrugged off as “racism” or “Islamophobia” with the assistance of the left’s useful idiots like Owen Jones.
Apart from his somewhat threatening statements about not voting for him while claiming that “he is the West”, Mr. Khan’s own track record is perhaps one of the most sour of all Muslim politicians in the Western world.
In 2001 he was the lawyer for the Nation of Islam in its successful High Court bid to overturn the 15-year-ban on its leader, Louis Farrakhan.
In 2005 and 2006 he visited terror-charged Babar Ahmad in Woodhill Prison. Mr. Ahmed was extradited to the U.S. in 2012, serving time in prison before being returned to the UK in 2015. Mr. Ahmed pleaded guilty to the terrorist offences of conspiracy, and providing material support to the Taliban.
And Mr. Khan also campaigned for the release and repatriation of Shaker Aamer, Britain’s last Guantanamo detainee, who was returned to the UK in November.
Both Messrs Aamer and Ahmed provided Mr. Khan with links to the advocacy group CAGE, which described the Islamic State executioner Mohammed Emwazi as a “beautiful young man”, and which has campaigned on behalf of both men. Mr. Khan is reported to have shared a stage with five Islamic extremists, including at sex-segregated events. Even so, his poll numbers remain firm.
The ConservativeHome website lists even more concerns, including:
- A letter to the Guardian in the wake of the 7/7 terrorist bombings on London, blaming terrorism on British Government policy;
- His legal defence of Zacarias Moussaoui, a 9/11 terrorist who confessed to being a member of Al Qaeda;
- His chapter in a book, entitled ‘Actions Against the Police’ which advises on how to bring charges against the police for “racism”. This is the same police force that Mr. Khan as London mayor would exercise authority over;
- His defence of Islamist extremist Azzam Tamimi. When Dr. Tamimi told a crowd that the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed would “cause the world to tremble” and predicted “Fire… throughout the world if they don’t stop”, Mr. Khan, who shared a platform with him, dismissed the threats as “flowery language”;
- His platform-sharing with Suliman Gani, a south London imam who has urged female subservience to men, and called for the founding of an Islamic state.
Londoners may, in small part, be swayed by the clutch of anti-Semitism that is now perceived to grip Labour. But with Mr. Khan’s lead, it is unlikely to be a large enough swing to keep him out of office.
On Friday morning, Londoners will likely get the news that their mayor for the next four years is a man with the judgement, priorities, and fellow travellers as laid out above. This, combined with an annual £16bn budget, and an army of police, bureaucrats, and officials, would make Mr. Khan one of the most powerful Muslims in the Western world.
This hollow fabric either must inclose,
Within its blind recess, our secret foes;
Or ‘t is an engine rais’d above the town,
T’ o’erlook the walls, and then to batter down.
Somewhat is sure design’d, by fraud or force:
Trust not their presents, nor admit the horse.’
– Virgil’s Aeneid