Labour's Sadiq Khan has been declared the new Mayor of London despite a last-minute fall in his lead over rival Zac Goldsmith. Khan is now the capital's first ever Muslim mayor and the first Labour mayor since Ken Livingstone's defeat in 2008.
As Londoners began voting yesterday morning, the final YouGov poll of the year-long battle for City Hall found the Labour lawyer ahead of the Tory environmentalist by 43 per cent to 32 per cent on first preference votes. Goldsmith had hoped that the anti-semitism row engulfing Labour, which resulted in the party suspending the MP Naz Shah and former mayor Ken Livingstone, could dent Khan's hopes, however it wasn't quite enough.
The Labour candidate had consistently held a solid poll lead over Conservative Zac Goldsmith for many months, who is perceived to have suffered from running a negative campaign that controversially sought to link Khan to extremism. Goldsmith had also sought to depict Khan as a Corbyn loyalist who planned to use the capital for a “dangerous experiment”.
Andrew Boff, the Conservative leader on the London Assembly, criticised the Goldsmith campaign telling BBC News it had “done real damage” and had “blown up” bridges the Conservative Party had built with London’s Muslim communities.
The results suggest Khan’s flagship policies matched the mood of Londoners better than Goldsmith’s. A fares freeze - a signature Khan pledge - was almost twice as popular among Conservatives as Goldsmith’s policy of protecting higher transport investment with annual fares increases. Moreover, the most popular housing policy among Conservatives was not a Goldsmith policy at all, but Khan’s promise to give “first dibs” to Londoners rather than overseas investors on new flats.
Over in the London Assembly, Labour is set to reach a majority. Khan's party surprised pundits, gaining Merton and Wandsworth from the Conservatives, a seat they had held since 2000 with a considerable 26,293 majority in 2008.
While Khan's victory will be spun as the 'story of the night', the Conservatives will be keen to move attention away from London and push the line that no opposition has lost councils seats in this way for nearly thirty years.They'll say it was a test of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the Labour Party, and that he has failed.
Nonetheless, the win for Khan, who has been the MP for Tooting since 2005, is a welcome boost for his party after a disastrous performance in Scotland. Jeremy Corbyn said he would work to re-build support north of the border after Labour lost 13 seats in the Scottish Parliament, being pushed into third place by the resurgent Scottish Conservatives.
To find out more about Sadiq Khan's policies for London, click here.
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