Mayor Sadiq Khan thanks Londoners for electing Pakistani immigrant's son for historic third term

"Only London can elect an Asian, Muslim and Pakistani heritage three times," says newly elected London mayor

Murtaza Ali Shah

LONDON: Sadiq Khan began his third term as London mayor on Tuesday with a pledge to make the capital the best city in the world to grow up in — and a tribute to his Pakistani parents who faced hostilities when they first arrived in the city which has now historically elected Sadiq Khan for the third term.

The Labour incumbent won a historic third term at the polls last week, becoming the first London mayor to do so, with a majority of some 275,000 over Conservative rival Susan Hall, increasing his share of votes and making unprecedented inroads in new areas of London.

Speaking at a declaration of office ceremony held in the Tate Modern, Khan set out his stall for the capital’s young people and nightlife.

He told the audience about his Pakistani bus driver father who faced racism and hate. Yet, Sadiq Khan said London was the greatest city on the earth because just a generation later the same city made him a Mayor and went on to re-elect him thrice.

Sadiq Khan said: “My Pakistani bus driver father served London. He was a proud Londoner. When he arrived here from Pakistan, he was met with signboards in shops and guest houses that read ’No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs’. My father was not white. And yet one generation on, thanks to the struggle and sacrifice of so many, his son, the child of immigrants of Pakistani origin, Asian heritage and Islamic faith, has been able to go from a South London council estate to become Mayor of the city he adored.

“And not only that but won re-election, not once but twice. And that’s a reminder to everyone to know why London is special, the city of pluralism.”

Accompanied by his wife and two daughters, Sadiq Khan added: “My name is Sadiq Khan and I am still the Mayor of London.

Sadiq Khan Khan said he wants to make free school meals permanent in London’s state primary schools, fund more youth clubs and mental health support, as well as invest in high-quality mentoring.

The mayor said he was proud that his campaign of positivity was able to overcome what he considered to be divisive and dishonest Tory tactics.

He said: “We had a Conservative candidate whose campaign was extremely negative, somebody who was spreading misinformation, fake information and lies, so we had to respond and rebut that at the same time as trying to put forward a positive vision for our city – a fairer, greener, safer London.

“I’m really proud that this city has rewarded that positive campaign and rejected the Conservative campaign.”

The mayor arrived at the Tate Modern on foot, walking across Millennium Bridge in a green linen suit from Hackney-based Percival, flanked by his wife, Saadiya and their teenage daughters.

During his speech at the art gallery, Khan said: “It would be nice to take a moment to celebrate becoming the first person in British political history to win successive victories over Count Binface.”

He added: “If you need another reason to love London, Count Binface easily beat Britain First.”

Standing behind a lectern which read London for Everyone, Khan described London as “a city of progress, pluralism and endless possibility”, where the “story is one written by people of all faiths, all ethnicities and all backgrounds”.

The mayor rebuffed comments made last week by Donald Trump, which accused London of having “opened the door to extremism”.

“He couldn’t be more wrong”, Khan said, adding: “The truth is, through the results of this election Londoners have slammed the door shut on his brand of hard-right populism. Londoners have said no to racism, no to division and no to hate, and yes once again to diversity, unity and hope.”

The mayor acknowledged that “these are challenging times” with many “struggling desperately to make ends meet”.

“If you work hard and get a helping hand, you can achieve anything,” Khan said of his “London promise”, but he told PA that too many Londoners were not receiving a sufficient helping hand.

“I’m hoping later on this year, after the general election, the British public vote in a Labour government and we can make a real difference,” he said.

When asked about the struggling nightlife sector, Khan told PA that a perfect storm of Brexit, the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis had impacted hospitality.

“We are going to carry on supporting those businesses and frankly speaking what they need is a situation where the business rates aren’t going through the roof”, he said, adding: “I’m looking forward to a really vibrant summer, attracting tourists back to the city, and if Taylor Swift can’t do it, nobody can.”