Three More Years: Sadiq Khan Reelected as London Mayor, but Won by Smaller Majority

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 08: Sadiq Khan speaks after being re-elected as London mayor for second term at the London election count declaration on May 8, 2021 in London, England. The London mayoral and Assembly election takes place today a year after the emergency Coronavirus Act 2020 postponed elections across …
Leon Neal/Getty Images

London will have leftist Mayor Sadiq Khan in power for at least three more years after his victory was announced on Saturday evening, besting Conservative Party challenger Shaun Bailey.

Despite months of polling predicting a landslide victory for Labour Party’s Sadiq Khan in the London mayoral election, Mr Khan only edged out the relatively unknown London Assembly Member by a margin of 40 per cent to 35.3 per cent in the first round of London’s preferential voting system.

Although Khan failed to win an outright majority in the first round, he ultimately prevailed in the second round when second preference votes were counted. The Labour politician won 1,206,034 votes (55.2 per cent) to Bailey’s 977,601 votes, or 44.8 per cent, a majority of 208,533 votes.

While a comfortable majority, it was less than Khan’s 2016 results — which the BBC described on Sunday as the “record-setting vote total” of 1,310,143, which translated into 56.8 per cent and a 315,529-vote majority over his main rival, Conservative Zac Goldsmith. 

The closer margin of the race further demonstrated the political problems facing the left-wing Labour Party, which saw a string of defeats throughout the country in this week’s elections, including another so-called ‘Red Wall’ seat of Hartlepool swinging to Boris Johnson’s Tory Party in a parliamentary by-election.

A noticeably fatigued Khan said in his victory speech: “I promise to strain every sinew, help build a better and brighter future for London, after the dark days of the pandemic and to create a greener, fairer, and safer city for all Londoners, to get the opportunities they need to fulfil their potential.”

“It’s in this spirit that I promise to lead London over the next three years, building bridges between the different communities in our city, building bridges across cultural, social, and class divides,” he added.

Shaun Bailey, for his part, took the opportunity of his concession speech to highlight the failures of Sadiq Khan’s tenure, in particular the spiralling problem of knife crime in the capital.

Bailey, who is of British Jamaican heritage, said to the Pakistani heritage Khan: “I hope you take this opportunity to focus on the fact that people who look like me are four times as likely to be murdered than people who look like you.”

During Khan’s time in office, crime has massively increased in Britain’s largest city, with over 100 homicides recorded in London for six years running. Since taking power, knife crime rose by over 50 per cent until the year leading up to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, according to data held by the House of Commons library.

During his first term, Mr Khan gave added focus to woke policing strategies, establishing the Online Hate Crime Hub to police speech on the internet in 2016. In 2019, it was reported that the £1.7 million unit, nicknamed the “Twitter Squad”, had investigated 1,612 cases during a two year period, yet merely secured six convictions.

Reclaim Party leader Laurence Fox, who also ran for mayor of London, securing 47,634 votes, said ahead of the election that Mr Khan should “police streets not tweets“.

Khan has also engaged in the war on British heritage. In the wake of the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement in Britain following the death of George Floyd in the United States, Khan established a Red Guard-style ‘Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm’ to target historical monuments and statues in London for review.

Khan rose to international attention during his term after engaging in a very public diplomatic spat with then-President of the United States Donald Trump.

Mr Trump branded the leftist mayor a “stone-cold loser” for his failure to tackle violent crime and terrorism in Britain’s largest city after Khan said in 2017 that the United Kingdom should cancel the American president’s state visit.

Khan had accused President Trump of using “xenophobia, racism, and ‘otherness’ as an electoral tactic” and later declared that Trump only cared about “White America”, saying that Trump’s election slogan of America First really meant “White America First”.

Despite Khan’s protests, Trump came to the UK twice: a working visit in July 2018 and a state visit in June 2019. During the state visit, Trump had claimed: “In London, you have stabbings all over. I read an article where everybody is being stabbed. They said your hospital is a sea of blood, all over the floors.”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka

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