Sadiq Khan: The Mayor of London

Il politico britannico di origine pakistana, rieletto per la terza volta, è il primo sindaco musulmano di una grande città europea. Membro dell’ala moderata del Partito Laburista, è in carica dal 2016.

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Sadiq Khan is the current Mayor of London. A member of the Labour Party, he was re-elected for a third term this May. As mayor, Khan must set the budget and direct the entire metropolitan area of London, known as Greater London. The position is different to that of the Lord Mayor of London, a non-political figure who promotes and represents the City of London, the capital’s financial district.   

background

Khan was born in South London in 1970 to Pakistani immigrant parents. His father worked as a bus driver and his mother was a seamstress. He began his career as a human rights lawyer and then entered politics, becoming the Shadow Secretary of State for Justice and the Shadow Minister for London.

Khan has faced major challenges: the Brexit vote in 2016 within months of his being elected led to an exodus of EU citizens, and fewer European arrivals in London. As a result, the London economy is estimated to be £30 billion worse off. The pandemic meant Londoners worked increasingly from home, and many families moved out of the capital. Recent events in Gaza have placed pressure on community relations.

BAD POLITICS

Khan has also had a difficult relationship with the UK’s Conservative government, the right-wing media, and occasionally with his own party. He believes that recent Conservative prime ministers have been “deliberately anti-London” as they think it will help them win votes in the Midlands and in the north of England: “It used to be the EU [that was targeted], and now it’s London”, he has said. Like other politicians worldwide, Khan has also faced extremely negative campaigning and has had to fight against misinformation. When his rival for the mayorship, Susan Hall, joined a Facebook group that contained anti-semitic and Islamaphobic comments, Khan accused her of condoning racism. 

LESS HATE, MORE HOPE

In his victory speech, Khan praised his team for leading a campaign that responded to “fearmongering with facts, hate with hope, and attempts to divide with unity.” Among his ambitious policies of job creation, council home building and crime prevention, he presented a ten-point climate action plan that includes a zero-emission bus fleet, solar panels on school roofs, and a swimmable Thames by 2030! To combat the cost of living crisis, he wants to make free school meals permanent in state primary schools and introduce ‘baby banks’ in London boroughs where families can access free essentials for their children. He has also promised an Erasmus-style scheme to help London’s students to study abroad, and international students to come to London.  

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Questo articolo appartiene al numero July 2024 della rivista Speak Up.

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