LONDON (UPI) — The first Muslim mayor in London history has been elected.
Sadiq Khan of the Labour Party wrapped up his victory over his Conservative Party rival Zac Goldsmith on Friday when it was announced that the vote tally sits in Khan’s corner.
Final count: 1, 310,143 votes to 994, 614.
“I am so proud that London has today chosen hope over fear,” he said Friday. “Politics of fear is not welcome in our city.”
Khan makes history for being the first Muslim leader of London, or any major Western capital.
The 45-year-old, the son of a Pakistani bus driver and seamstress, trained as a lawyer before becoming a Member of Parliament for the left of center Labour Party in the south London constituency of Tooting.
“I want to be the British Muslim that defeats the extremists, defeats the radicals. I’ve got a plan of how we can keep London safe,” he told the Washington Post earlier this week.
Goldsmith, 41, is the son of billionaire businessman and financier Sir James Goldsmith. Viewed as a rising star in British Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party, he was elected Member of Parliament for Richmond Park in 2010.
The mayoral contest has been ugly by British standards.
Khan denied claims that he supports Islamic extremists, saying that he met with “unsavory characters” as part of his job as a human rights lawyer. Meanwhile, Goldsmith was accused of being racist with his attacks on Khan’s beliefs.
When asked if Goldsmith’s campaign has done “lasting damage” to relations with London’s Muslim community, Andrew Boff, the Conservative leader of watchdog group, the London Assembly, said: “I think it has.”
It wasn’t just London that went to the polls. Just a year after its general election, which saw the Conservatives sweep back to power with an overall majority, local elections were held in various part of England on Thursday, together with national elections in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Mayoral elections were also held in four cities, including London.
Other than Khan’s victory, though, there was little to cheer for in the opposition Labour Party, which suffered losses in various parts of the country. It was the first real test since taking charge for the party’s new leader Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran politician from Labour’s far left.
In the last local elections in 2012, Labour made sweeping gains, but this time it fell further behind the Conservative Party in England, and slipped to become the third-largest party in Scotland. Labour did, however, remain the dominant party in the Welsh Assembly.
Britons have more voting to do in just six weeks’ time when they will decided whether or not to stay in the European Union.
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