Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Sadiq Khan the 'radical'

What was never clear about Zac Goldsmith’s campaign is when the dodgy fellows with whom Sadiq Khan was supposedly allied would emerge and wield their influence over the new mayor. Sadiq Khan has been in position for just over a week so it’s probably too early to judge whether he is the security risk to the capital that Goldsmith, Michael Fallon and David Cameron suggested. In his first few days, however, he has displayed little apparent sympathy with Islamic extremism. Instead, the new mayor has displayed sound judgement and shown canny political instincts.

Consider his first few days:

His swearing in ceremony took place in the modest splendour of Southwark Cathedral, rather than City Hall, several stones' throw further east along the river.

The following day, Mayor Khan attended the Yom HaShoah memorial event, remembering victims of the Holocaust. There, he chatted with the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, commiserating that he’d been unable to vote due to the shambles at polling stations in Barnet. The photographs portray an amicable meeting despite, just a few days earlier, Rabbi Mirvis warning that the Labour party had a ‘severe’ issue with anti-Semitism. 

Writing in the Jewish Chronicle, Marcus Dysch wrote:

‘A Muslim politician, the son of Pakistani immigrants, standing shoulder to shoulder with Shoah survivors? It looked good, and it felt good too. And that is not something Jews have been able to say about many Labour politicians in the past year. Two days into the job, he has now cemented his position as the community’s go-to figure.’

The Labour Party's troubles do not seem to be Sadiq Khan's.

And today (17/05/16) the Gay Pride flag is flying outside City Hall to mark International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT): 

It has been well documented how Sadiq Khan upset some in his own community for backing same-sex marriage in 2013, to the point of even receiving death threats. This didn't stop him from reassuring Pink News back in January, however, that he would attend future Gay pride marches, after Boris Johnson's failure to attend since 2010.

Now, it's perfectly likely that Zac Goldsmith would have been appeared at these events had he been elected mayor; they're just the sort of trips a new London mayor makes. But, they go a long way very quickly towards dispelling any fears waverers may have had over who was taking over City Hall. And, with the added benefit of hindsight, it marks the Conservative mayoral campaign as being even more tactically and painfully misjudged. 

The even more tragic aspect of the whole affair is, while the Conservative Party will ultimately continue on its way, Zac Goldsmith's reputation is likely to have been tarnished for years to come.