In an editorial, The Independent says: It is customary to deride gesture politics, but there are some symbolic gestures that are well worthwhile. Not that the election of Sadiq Khan by the emphatic margin of 57 to 43 per cent is purely symbolic. The powers of the London Mayor may be limited, but his is still the most powerful directly elected office in the country. Yet it is for the symbolism of electing the Muslim son of an immigrant bus driver that Mr Khan’s victory is most striking.
It is significant because Londoners so resoundingly rejected a campaign that seemed designed to appeal to anti-Muslim prejudice. Democracy does not always eschew the baser motives, but this time Zac Goldsmith tried to make a coded connection between “Muslim” and “terrorist” and the voters of London told him to get lost.
Not only that, but they did so on a turnout sharply higher than four years ago – a welcome rebuttal of pre-election gloom about voter apathy and a promising indicator for the EU referendum vote next month.
Now that the election is over, Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, has come out to say that he thinks London is “safe” under Mr Khan as Mayor, and that we should not take too seriously things that might have been said in the “rough and tumble” of the campaign. This confirms that Mr Goldsmith’s campaign was not only disreputable but that most decent Conservatives knew it. [Continue reading…]