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Sadiq Khan Makes History By Winning an Unprecedented Third Term as Mayor of London

Sadiq Khan Makes History By Winning an Unprecedented Third Term as Mayor of London

  • Khan’s impressive and emphatic win gives a shot in the arm for the Labour Party as Britain heads into parliamentary election later this summer or fall.

Sadiq Khan made history when he became the first Muslim mayor of a major Western capital when he was elected Mayor of London in 2016. He bested his history-making political career when he was elected to an unprecedented third term by any politician. 

In a way, his trajectory has been even greater than Rishi Sunak who became first non-white prime minister of Britain some 18 months ago. Sunak, after all, represents only a parliamentary constituency and was elected prime minister by his party. Whereas, Khan is directly elected in the largest city in the UK with over 9 million people.

And unlike Sunak who was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, as it were, Khan was born in 1970 in Tooting, South London to a working-class Pakistani immigrant family. He is one of eight children, raised by a father who was a bus driver and a mother who was a seamstress.

Khan’s impressive and emphatic win gives a shot in the arm to the Labour Party as Britain heads into a parliamentary election later this summer or fall. Khan’s two terms in office have been defined by challenges like Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic, and issues around crime and transportation. His top priorities coming into office included making housing more affordable, improving air quality, and investing in infrastructure projects. On housing, he implemented policies like rent controls and requirements for affordable units in new developments. However, the overall housing crisis persisted due to factors like the pandemic’s economic impact.

Air quality was one of Khan’s biggest successes — his Ultra Low Emission Zone dramatically reduced pollutants and earned international praise. He also made moves to make London more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly through initiatives like low-traffic neighborhoods.

His tenure saw massive disruptions like the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy in 2017 that exposed flaws in building safety regulations. Khan advocated for reforms but was criticized by some for the slow pace of change.

On transportation, Khan negotiated a bailout to keep TfL funded during the pandemic but clashed with Downing Street over required fare hikes and service cuts. His push for greater control over suburban rail routes was rebuffed.

Crime emerged as a political vulnerability, with rising violence and terror attacks early in his tenure hurting his approval ratings. Khan invested in community policing but faced backlash after the high-profile raids of ethnic minority households during COVID lockdowns.

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Relations with the national government were increasingly tense as Khan lambasted Prime Ministers May and Johnson over their handling of Brexit, which he warned could damage London’s economy and global status.

As he looks ahead to a third term, Khan’s critics say he has overpromised and underdelivered on key quality-of-life issues. But his supporters laud his international leadership on climate change and trumpet London’s enduring appeal as a diverse, thriving global city under his stewardship.

Khan’s path-breaking mayorship has been one of historic significance even as he grappled with immense challenges both local and global in scale. His legacy is still being written.

(Top photo, Sadiq Khan/Facebook)

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