The London Mayoral election takes place on 2nd May.

The candidates standing against the incumbent Sadiq Khan [Labour] on 2nd May 2024 are Susan Hall [Conservative], Rob Blackie [Liberal Democrats], Zoe Garbett [Green], Brian Rose [London Real Party], Howard Cox [Reform UK], Amy Gallagher [Social Democrats] and also four independents: Shyam Batra, Natalie Campbell, Tarun Ghulati, Andreas Michli.

Sadiq Khan – as in the 2016 and 2021 campaigns – has been at receiving end of divisive comments. The Tory MP Lee Anderson recently said he believed that Sadiq Khan was “controlled by Islamists”.

This is a ridiculous charge against the Mayor, who has a record of standing for all sections of London’s communities, from the Pride marches, support for the music industry, celebrating events like St Patrick’s Day, commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day, and for London’s youthful Muslim population, a spectacular Eid in The Square last April that featured sufi qawalli groups and rap.

Of London’s 8.8 million population, 4.0 million are of minority ethnicity. About 1 in 3 BAME is Muslim: 1.3 million Muslims – 15% of the capital’s population.

Sadiq Khan is a politician in Labour’s Fabian Society tradition i.e. to temper excesses of capitalism through collectivism. His rise up the Labour Party ladder – from human rights lawyer at Liberty to Tooting MP to Minister of State for Transport under Gordon Brown’s premiership in 2008 – has been slow and patient, and he is not one to be a martyr for Muslim causes! He could have done more to block Babar Ahmad’s extradition in 2012 to the US; he could be in line with Muslim ulema who see the Bait ul Futooh centre in Morden as another place of worship, rather than a mosque.

Yet, it is a choice between someone who supports plurality and multiculturalism, or an alternative candidate lacking that track record.

His delivery on council housing and steps to clean up London’s air are an achievement.

We need to remember the last Tory mayor of London – Boris Johnson – had, as his advisor on communities, someone who disparaged multiculturalism. It was a sign of Tory thinking in 2016 – now more entrenched – that challenger Zac Goldsmith smeared Sadiq Khan – ‘legitimising those with extremist views” . Goldsmith was rewarded with a peerage!

A vote for Sadiq Khan is not so much a vote for Keir Starmer’s Labour, but a vote for preserving London as a vibrant, inclusive, multicultural world city.

So, what does this mean to Black and Muslim voters on 2nd May? First, recognise the critical constituencies; second, mobilise the grass roots in voter registration particularly in these locales; third, efforts to ensure turn-out at the polling booths on the big day.

In 2021, there were 6 constituencies of Greater London that went Blue, but there are two that can be considered marginal: Brent & Harrow; Ealing & Hillingdon; South West (that includes Hounslow). There is one constituency that is vulnerable to being lost by Labour if there is a poor voter turnout: Barnet & Camden,

In addition to casting a vote for the mayor of their choice, voters will also be given ballot papers to elect a London Assembly member for their constituency (there are 11 London constituencies) on a first past-the-post basis, and 11 London Assembly members, using a proportional representation rule.

Two constituencies warrant special attention: Brent & Harrow voted for Tory Shaun Bailey on the Mayoral ballot but Labour for its London Assembly member Krupesh Hirani; Ealing & Hillingdon also voted Tory for the Mayoral ballot, but Labour for its London Assembly member Dr. Onkar Sahota. Voter registration activists need to drill down into the faith/ethnicity data to obtain a further understanding.

The closing date for voter registration is Tuesday 16th April.

In these highlighted constituencies and beyond, the priority of Muslim civil society groups should be on voter registration of first-time voters. Data has been prepared by the Muslim Council of Britain’s ReDoc unit.

A person can vote in the Mayor of London and London Assembly elections if they are registered to vote and are:

  • resident in London, 
  • aged 18 or over on polling day 
  • a British citizen 
  • an Irish, EU or qualifying Commonwealth citizen

More information on eligibility can be found on the website at www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/voter.

Salaam blogger/22 March 2024