It is wonderful news and hugely symbolic to see the son of a Pakistani bus driver having worked hard through the grassroots of the Labour Party to become the Mayor of the UK’s capital. It is also a powerful counter-narrative to the anti-Western propaganda of the likes of ISIS. Many younger British Muslims will surely see Sadiq Khan’s victory today and wonder whether they too could play an active role in the politics of our country. That has to be a good thing.
Sadiq certainly had many detractors from within the UK’s Muslim community, not least due to his support for gay marriage. As I argued at the time, Sadiq’s support for gay marriage was a principled position in favour of equality and against discrimination and it was the right and progressive thing to do.
Nevertheless, that stand cost him the support of the many Muslims, not least his own local Imam Suliman Gani. When it comes to supporting bigotry and making excuses for unfair discrimination, it is regrettable that the most overtly religious amongst Muslims often tend to be at the front of the queue.
I remember Sadiq as a new Labour MP who withstood immense internal Labour Party pressure back in November 2005 when he opposed Tony Blair’s plan to detain terror suspects for up to 90 days without trial. It was a very courageous stand and at the time he was told by a number of senior Labour figures that his career was effectively over for having had the audacity to defy the Labour Prime Minister at the time.
So, congratulations Sadiq! Hope you do us all proud, insha’ Allah.