Sadiq Khan has been elected as the mayor of London for a second term following a tight race against the Conservative opponent Shaun Bailey.
“I am deeply humbled by the trust Londoners have placed in me to continue leading the greatest city on Earth,” Khan said during 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. I am proud to have won an overwhelming mandate today.”
When the first votes were counted, Khan was on 40% while Bailey 35.3%. Green Party candidate Siân Berry of the Green party came third 7.8%while the Liberal Democrats’ Luisa Porritt was fourth with 4.4%. In the runoff, Khan received 55.2% of the vote while Bailey came a close second, receiving 44.8%.
At the beginning of the race, it was widely thought that Khan would win the vote by a landslide, but Bailey proved to be far from the underdog as he toured London’s boroughs in a campaign rooted in relatability. Towards the end of his campaign, it was generally reported that members of the Conservative party were told not to endorse Bailey publicly.
Bailey faced scrutiny from the Black community as they struggled to reconcile a Black man representing a party historically recognized as being anti-immigration.
“I can’t tell you how many times I get asked this. I don’t want to deny the history, I’m not a lunatic. There is history there that needs to be overcome. People talk to me about ‘Rivers of Blood’ speeches. And I’ll say to them, ‘So let’s look at Enoch Powell, for instance, he made that speech in 1968 and he was sacked. I’m not telling you the Conservatives have been perfect around race, because they haven’t. But the point is, Labour haven’t been made to pay for [their past] in the same way,” he told Glamour.
In a concession speech delivered from City Hall, Bailey said Londoners had not “written him off.”
“As I went through these, for me what was two years of campaigning, one feeling felt familiar to me, one challenge had always felt the same.And that was the feeling of being written off… by pollsters, by journalists, by fellow politicians,” he mused. “But it’s no surprise to me that Londoners didn’t write me off – when you come from where I come from and see the things I’ve seen as a poor boy who’s been homeless, who’s been unemployed, a youth worker in the city – you understand London is generous in spirit and will give you a hearing,” Bailey said.
“I was glad to shine light a light on safety, the fact many Londoners can’t afford a home and being priced out of London by a relentless renewal of tax,” he added.
Considering the closeness of the race, Bailey may well have a point.