LONDON: History was made on Friday as son of Pakistani bus driver and Labour parliamentarian Sadiq Khan defied all odds and won the race for London mayor, beating the government-supported multi-billionaire Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith.
Sadiq Khan defeated Goldsmith by 44 to 35 per cent in the first preference votes and easily managed to win in the second preference.
Speaking after the official announcement of his victory, Khan said he wanted a “more equal London.”
“I am so proud that Londoners have today chosen hope over fear and unity over division,” he added.
The defeat of Zac Goldsmith at the hands of British Pakistani politician Sadiq Khan is a huge personal setback for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, who openly endorsed Zac Goldsmith and campaigned for his former brother-in-law – Jemima Goldsmith’s younger brother.
In an interview with Hamid Mir on Geo News, Imran Khan said that he was proud to support Zac Goldsmith because he originally urged him to enter politics. The PTI leader then expressed his support for Zac Goldsmith on 23rd of March on Twitter.
Imran Khan told his followers: “Zac Goldsmith is running for Mayor of London. Have known him for 20 years. He is an honourable man with strong convictions and compassion. Zac is a man of integrity with a commitment to justice. He has the leadership capabilities to make a great mayor.”
Imran Khan supported Zac Goldsmith because Zac has always praised Imran Khan and told Geo News in an interview that “Imran Khan is the answer to Pakistan’s problem”. He said that he considered himself “half Pakistani” but then he went on to run a nasty campaign associating Muslims with terrorism and incorrectly calling Sadiq Khan an extremist, radical and terror sympathiser.
When asked by this correspondent about Imran Khan’s support for Zac Goldsmith, Sadiq Khan, while laughing, said that “it’s a blessing that Imran Khan doesn’t have a vote in London”. Sadiq Khan said that extremely negative campaign was run against him by Zac Goldsmith and the Tory government but he said that he has always believed in “hope against fear and division”.
He said that Zac attacked Sadiq Khan using race and religion card to such an extent that his own party’s former cabinet minister and party chair Sayeeda Warsi said that Zac Goldsmith had become unrecognisable to her and that his campaign team was “destroying” him through attacks on Muslims.
Sadiq Khan told this scribe that he will be a mayor of all Londoners and will serve diligently. He said that he will use his tenure to try to improve trade relations between pakistan and the UK.
Millions of Pounds were spent by the Tory campaign on telling voters that Sadiq Khan was a Pakistani, Muslim, terror sympathiser and hence he should not be trusted.
Zac Goldsmith was supported by Prime Minister David Cameron as the duo joined forced and used every trick in the book to defame Sadiq Khan to scare off voters, including attacks on Sadiq Khan during live transmission on the state television.
David Cameron at the prime minister’s questions time by saying Labour’s mayoral candidate Tooting MP Sadiq Khan had appeared on platforms with a London imam who “supports IS” (Islamic State).
This was despite the imam in question, Suliman Gani, having already said on Twitter that he had attended a political event with Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith and had supported the local Tory challenger to Khan at the general election.
It turned out that Gani had appeared with Zac Goldsmith on many occasions and the two were pictured together. Gani said that he backed the party’s candidate Dan Watkins last May and even supplied canvassers for his campaign. He added that, following the election, the Tories had asked him to help them find potential local councillors. He said he felt he had been used by the Conservatives “as a scapegoat to discredit Sadiq Khan.”
Zac Goldsmith’s campaign in English areas told voters that Sadiq Khan was a Muslim and he must not be given votes; In Indian community areas, Zac’s campaign team said that Sadiq was of Pakistani heritage, that he was a Muslim and didn’t support Narendra Modi when he last visited London, they also circulated a picture of Zac with Modi and PM Cameron, they also told Indians that their jewelry will not be safe if Sadiq Khan wins; In Jewish areas similar campaign of fear and division was run.
Andrew Boff, Tory leader in the Greater London Assembly and Zac’s colleague, blasted Zac Goldsmith for doing “real damage” to community relations. He said Zac Goldsmith has “blown up bridges” by linking Labour’s Sadiq Khan with Muslim “extremists”.
Andrew Boff said it was an error to “equate people of conservative religious views with sympathising with terrorism”.
He said: Mr Boff, the former Conservative group leader on the London Assembly, told the BBC: “I mentioned that I thought this was a mistake for future integration in London. I don’t think it was dog whistle because you can’t hear a dog whistle – everybody could hear this.
It was effectively saying that people of conservative religious views are not to be trusted and you shouldn’t share a platform with them. That’s outrageous.”
Sadiq Khan has previously said he had “never hidden” the fact that, as a former chairman of Liberty and a human rights lawyer, he had acted for “some pretty unsavoury characters”.
Mr Boff said the party had actively engaged with the Muslim community in Newham, but “now those bridges that have been built, a few of them have been blown up by this campaign”.