Sadiq Khan is the new Mayor of London. After what seemed like an eternal wait, withs second preferences counted, he claimed 57pc of the vote to Zac Goldsmith’s 43pc – a comfortable margin of 14pc. So after eight years of Tory control, Labour has retaken City Hall. Khan’s result is Labour’s best of this election cycle. He has won a decisive victory in a contest which has seen turnout go up, and by a wider margin than Boris’s 2012 victory.
There’ll be much criticism of Goldsmith’s campaign in the next few days, but it is worth noting just how relentless Khan was. He hit his key messages endlessly, never missing an opportunity to remind voters that he was the son of a bus driver. He also cast himself as the British Muslim who would take on the extremists, which meant that he was well positioned to parry when the Tories raised questions about some of the people that he had shared platforms with in the past.
At the last election, no MP increased their majority more than Goldsmith. As in 2010, when he won the seat from the Liberal Democrats, Goldsmith had proven himself to be a highly effective constituency campaigner. But his low-key style simply didn’t work citywide. Goldsmith never looked like he was particularly enjoying being out on the stump and he lacked a simple, memorable defining message.
Khan now becomes the most powerful Labour figure in the country. In this campaign, he has determinedly kept his distance from Jeremy Corbyn—not campaigning with him despite the fact the Labour leader is a London MP. Many Labour moderates hope that Khan will emphasise how different his approach to Corbyn is and how that helped him to win.