Observations of an Expat: Sadiq Khan

April 29, 2016 OPINION/NEWS

By

Tom Arms

Sadiq Khan. Remember the name. You will hear it again quite soon–and a lot more often. Sadiq – as he is known in Britain– is the Labour candidate for the job of Mayor of London. He is also way ahead in the opinion polls for the elections next Thursday.

If the polls are right then Sadiq will be the highest profile ethnic Asian in Britain—possibly in all of Europe. London, after all, has a population of over 8 million. It is a world financial and entertainment capital with an economy roughly the same size as that of Sweden.

In recent years, the outgoing Conservative Mayor Boris Johnson has used it as a potential stepping stone to 10 Downing Street.

An examination of Sadiq’s career to date makes it unlikely that he has his eye on the top job, but in the short-term, a victory on Thursday will mean that he will control Britain’s only major political power base opposing the Conservative government of David Cameron.

Sadiq is keen to stress his London roots and the Horatio Alger story that accompanies his rise. He was born in Tooting, South London in 1970 to the son of two Pakistanis who immigrated to Britain shortly before his birth. His father drove buses for 25 years. His mother was a seamstress. They lived in public housing. As soon as he was able, Sadiq was contributing to the family money pot with a paper round.

His early ambition was to become a dentist. But a teacher spotted his “argumentative nature” and suggested a law career. After he qualified he set up shop as a human rights specialist. But even before that he was holding public office. At the age of 24 he was elected to Wandsworth Council and then in 2005 to Parliament for his home constituency. From the start he was recognised as a rising star. The Spectator Magazine named him Parliamentarian of the Year after his first year at Westminster.

Within three years he was in the cabinet as Minister of Transport under Gordon Brown. He successfully managed Ed Milliband’s campaign for the Labour leadership and was rewarded with the jobs of Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Justice Minister. If Labour had won last year’s election Sadiq would have had a top cabinet post.

But Labour lost, and Sadiq decided to maintain his momentum by going for the mayor’s job. He was well placed. Although Sadiq does not overtly play the race card he is well aware of the political fact that only 44 percent of London’s population are now classed as white British. That means that 56 percent are not. That is a big bloc vote for Sadiq.

On top of that, in the 2015 election, Sadiq was given the job of organising the Labour campaign in London. Everywhere else in the country Labour was pummelled at the polls. In London they won 45 out of the 73 constituencies and Sadiq established a city-wide network of supporters.

Politically, Sadiq is in the middle of the Labour Party. He was, however, one of the 35 Labour MPS who nominated left-winger Jeremy Corbyn for the Party Leadership. Sadiq has since said that he did so to “widen the debate” and did not vote for Corbyn in the actual election. He has refused to publicly back the Labour Leader saying “I am my own man”. When Corbyn refused to sing the national anthem at the annual Remembrance Day service, Sadiq declared: “He was wrong.”

Sadiq’s ‘own man’ stand has meant that the efforts of billionaire Conservative mayoral contender Zac Goldsmith to link Sadiq with Corbyn have fallen flat. But more damaging to the Goldsmith campaign was Prime Minister David Cameron’s claim on the floor of the House of Commons that Sadiq had shared a platform with an Imam who was  a known ISIS supporter. The said Imam—Suliman Gani—immediately tweeted a picture of himself standing next to Mr. Goldsmith and revealed that he had actually campaigned for the Conservatives in 2015. He also denied that he supported ISIS or any other radical Islamic group. Big backfire.

Sadiq Khan is, of course, Muslim. When he was sworn in as a Privy Councillor he took a copy of the Koran with him because the palace did not have one. But he is extremely proud to be a BRITISH Muslim.

 

 

 

Tom Arms broadcasts on world affairs for a number of US radio stations including WTKF at http://www.wtkf107.com/. His Weekly Viewpoints discussion programme can be heard at 1830 EST on Wednesdays and his LookAhead at the next week’s main events on Fridays at 1800.

 

LookAhead Radio World Report for week commencing 2nd May:

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Arms

I am a journalist, entrepreneur and historian with extensive experience in print, web and broadcast journalism. I started as a diplomatic correspondent, wrote several books (The Falklands Crisis, World Elections On File and the Encyclopedia of the Cold War), and then in 1987 started my own business (Future Events News Service, www.fensinformation.com) which over 25 years established itself as the world and UK media’s diary. Our strapline was: “We set the world’s news agenda.” I sold FENS in December 2012 but retained the exclusive broadcast rights to all of FENS data. To exploit these rights I set up LookAhead TV which produces unique programmes which “Broadcasts Tomorrow Today” so that viewers can “Plan to Participate.” LookAhead has appeared regularly on Vox Africa, Radio Tatras International, The Conversation and Voice of Africa Radio.

Follow Tom Arms on Twitter and Linkedin

1 Comment

Leave a Reply