Over the last few months, the campaigns for the Mayor of London, along with other councillors across the UK, have been in full swing, with candidates publishing their manifestos, participating in debates and being scrutinised by the press. I want to talk here about the London Mayoral elections, specifically the new London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, who represents the Labour Party.
I’m aware that many international readers will not be familiar with the UK system of politics, but don’t worry: you won’t need to understand that to appreciate this post. trust me, I don’t think most of Britain understands our democratic voting system to be honest – I certainly don’t!
Sadiq Khan was announced as the Mayor of London on Friday night, and will be the Mayor of London for at least 4 years now. He replaces Boris Johnson, a mayor who was controversial, to say the least. Johnson, affectionately known as BoJo, is known for his obsession [a term I use loosely] with cycling, a passion which he has brought to the City of London in the form of cycle hire schemes, cycle super-highways and more bike-related ideas. BoJo represented the Conservative Party, was educated at what is regarded to be the best private school in England [along with the likes of our Prime Minister], and is known as being either extremely intelligent or slightly mad.
Sadiq Khan is the son of two Pakistani immigrants, who have ties back to India before the partition of 1947. Sadiq was born in London, his parents moving to England shortly before his birth. Throughout their time in London, his parents worked: his father as a bus driver for 25 years and his mother as a seamstress, and as soon as he was able, Sadiq worked also, getting a paper round, summer jobs – just the same as most London youths today.
Khan did not attend a fee-paying private school, or a top university; he got a degree from the university of north London, not a recognised ‘outstanding’ university. From there, his political career has led him to become the mayoral candidate for the Labour Party, and subsequently the Mayor of London.
I took to Twitter to observe people’s initial reactions to the news of Sadiq being elected as the mayor; Twitter is the perfect platform to gage a general reaction to an event or news story. Almost immediately, I sore comments that made me stop, shudder and really think about what is going on here in London.
Although there were, of course, many comments congratulating the new Mayor of London on his position, the common theme I saw over and over again was racism. Racism against a man who has done – what? What has this man done to deserve this kind of reaction?
khan has lived in , worked in and contributed to London as much as, or even more than, any pure British citizen all of his life, since his birth in 1970. According to many, many people, his religion automatically renders him incapable of being a good Mayor of London, his family tree – something entirely beyond his control – making him unworthy, unequal. In London, the city of culture, history and opportunity for all, such – dare I say it – childishness continues to be, and continues to divide us.
The one term that disgusted me beyond all else was “Londonistan”. The election of a mayor from Asian descent, apparently, must mean that the capital city is going to turn into a clone of Pakistan, because, of course, every person from Pakistan is an embodiment of their country. For crying out loud, he’s not even personally from Pakistan – and even if he was, what difference does that make? The whole reaction to his election screams out one message: far too many people still believe that individuals of foreign descent are lesser beings than those of pure british blood.
What a load of shit.
Complete and utter shit.
Sadiq Khan was my favourite candidate for the new mayor, although I obviously couldn’t vote. He wasn’t my favourite candidate because of his colour, his beliefs or his family history; I didn’t take that into account, because I don’t see ihat it’s relevant in this situation. Khan was my preferred mayoral candidate because he grew up in a working class family, worked as a teenager to earn money, went to a normal school in an average London borough. Finally, a mayor who wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth – a mayor,who really understands London as a whole, and not just the minority of million-and-billionaires who occupy the biggest houses, cars and businesses. I struggle to understand how the Mayor of London can know what is best for the majority of Londoners – the working class Londoners – if he’s never been one himself.
Sadiq Khan voted for same-sex marriage.
Sadiq Khan is a human rights activist.
Sadiq Khan is a father, a husband and an active member of his local community.
These are the points that matter. These are what we should be thinking about, what we should be voting for, not colour, or race, or religion. Those three facts: do they determine what colour skin you have?
No, of course they don’t. Anyone can achieve those three goals.
I’m sick of racists because, frankly, they make no sense. There is nothing – absolutely nothing – about someone with a different skin colour that makes them any less important than you, or me, or your neighbour, or the person two doors down from you.
Give Sadiq Khan a chance. After all, this is a democracy, and we voted him in.