Sadiq Khan leaves Southwark cathedral after being sworn in as London’s mayor on Saturday [Image: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images].

Sadiq Khan leaves Southwark cathedral after being sworn in as London’s mayor on Saturday [Image: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images].

Sadiq Khan is to be congratulated – not just for becoming the new Mayor of London, but for the enormity of his victory.

With more than one-and-a-half million votes, this son of a Pakistani bus driver has secured the strongest personal mandate in British political history.

He set out some of the reasons for his success in a much-discussed Guardian article, and makes some excellent points:

There are two lessons in particular: first, Labour only wins when we face outwards and focus on the issues that people care about; second, we will never be trusted to govern unless we reach out and engage with all voters – regardless of their background, where they live or where they work.

Throughout my campaign, we focused on the issues that Londoners care about most – the lack of affordable housing, transport infrastructure and fares, the NHS, the need for real neighbourhood policing and pro-business policies.

So-called natural Labour voters alone will never be enough to win a general election.

We must be able to persuade people who previously voted Conservative that Labour can be trusted with the economy and security, as well as improving public services and creating a fairer society.

The only part of the above that This Writer would question is “we will never be trusted to govern unless”. Labour does reach out to all voters in the way Mr Khan describes – more so since Jeremy Corbyn took over as party leader. Previously, Labour had been concentrating on a middle-class vote that was dwindling away and ignoring much of its natural constituency.

But, again, Mr Khan is right that so-called “natural” Labour voters won’t win a general election – at least, not at the moment. This is because the people currently labelled “natural” Labour voters only represent a fraction of that constituency. Many more members of the electorate are natural Labour voters but don’t recognise this because the rhetoric of other political parties has led them to believe otherwise. And tactical voting comes into this, too…

Some have taken issue with the next part, but I see it as a strong endorsement of Jeremy Corbyn:

Squabbles over internal structures might be important for some in the party, but it is clear they mean little or nothing to the huge majority of voters. As tempting as it might be, we must always resist focusing in on ourselves and ignoring what people really want.

Damn straight. It is hugely welcome that the new Mayor of London rejects the many attempted internal rebellions mounted by self-publicising MPs such as Simon Danczuk, John Mann, Dan Jarvis and the rest (those are simply the names that occur most readily today). Additionally, of course, the right wing of the Parliamentary Labour Party is determined to ignore what its own members want – Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader with an overwhelming majority and his ascent has resulted in an enormous influx of new members into the party. Logically, the continued dissent by these individuals is exactly the kind of “focusing in on ourselves” that Mr Khan deplores.

But he doesn’t really mean it that way, does he?

Khan himself is a Corbyn critic. When accusations of anti-Semitism in the party landed last week, in what can only be seen as a carefully-orchestrated attack from Conservative-supporting critics, he distanced himself from the Labour leadership and criticised its actions. This may have been politically-adroit manoeuvring at a time when he needed the support of as many voters as possible, including Jewish critics of Naz Shah, Ken Livingstone and others, but is it really necessary, now that the accusations have mostly been dismissed as smoke and mirrors?

(Incidentally, you can expect this particular scandal to fade away, now that the elections are over).

But look at what Khan has to say:

That’s one reason why the concerns about antisemitism within the Labour party have been so damaging. By not acting quickly enough, the party gave the impression that we didn’t care about the concerns of the Jewish community and that we were not taking accusations of racism seriously.

Jeremy Corbyn acted extremely quickly. After taking advice, he launched an inquiry and suspended the party members who had been accused.

In addition, Khan’s allegation about giving an impression that “we didn’t care about the concerns of the Jewish community” is inaccurate. The Jewish community is split on this issue, with many saying they see no anti-Semitism at all in the claims that have been made. In such circumstances, it is wise to gather as much information as possible and not to make snap decisions that may prove mistaken later.

And we have the terrible example of David Cameron’s Conservative Party with which to contrast Labour’s decisiveness. Zac Goldsmith’s campaign was offensively Islamophobic, yet the Tory leader has done nothing about it and the chancellor has dismissed it as political “rough and tumble”.

Khan acknowledges this:

David Cameron and Zac Goldsmith chose to set out to divide London’s communities in an attempt to win votes in some areas and suppress voters in other parts of the city. They used fear and innuendo to try to turn different ethnic and religious groups against each other – something straight out of the Donald Trump playbook. Londoners deserved better and I hope it’s something the Conservative party will never try to repeat.

… but ignores the crucial connection between Cameron’s inaction and Corbyn’s decisiveness.

Finally, there’s this:

It’s crucial for the whole country that the Labour party becomes a credible government-in-waiting.

Who says Labour isn’t credible at the moment? Khan, and people like him within the party. Perhaps if he supported his leader a little more, he’d find the public getting behind Labour – as they helped him on Thursday.

And just for balance, take a look at how local election results have been described in the past, compared with last week’s:

160508election results
Cognitive dissonance?
Source: What Labour can learn from my victory: we can’t ignore the things most voters want | Sadiq Khan | Politics | The Guardian

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