Sadiq Khan’s election as Mayor of London is symbolically significant and important for obvious reasons; even more so considering the Islamphobic smear campaign prepared and unleashed against him, orchestrated not by the far right but the Tory establishment and Tory press.
However, just as those who credited Barack Obama’s election to the White House in 2008/09 as evidence of a post racial America coming to pass, so it will be with those who allow themselves to believe that a Muslim’s election to London Mayor heralds anything other than another day at the office where Britain’s Muslim community is concerned. The first black president of the United States was placed under a de facto siege by congressional Republicans and their media acolytes, while all around him blacks in America, especially young black males, continued to be regarded and treated as the enemy within by out of control police departments.
Then, too, we have the huge gap between the promise of Obama’s presidency, the one outlined in the soaring rhetoric that laced his campaign speeches, and the reality two terms on, specifically with regard to Obama’s policy, leading to an even sharper polarization of East and West, his failure to make an inch of progress on the Israel-Palestinian question, and his administration’s role in destabilising the wider region.
Sadiq Khan, I predict, will follow much the same trajectory as Obama. On the one hand his mayoralty will be mercilessly attacked in the pages and news bulletins of the Tory press and broadcast media, which will take every opportunity to keep alive the calumny of extremism levelled against him by Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith, who conducted one of the most vicous political campaigns this country has seen in many a year with the support of David Cameron. On the other hand, the new Labour Mayor leaves no doubt that he will be more Catholic than the Pope in using his platform as Mayor to rail against those Muslims who dare step off the accepted plantation of political engagement, while being engaged as a member of Labour Friends of Israel – in truth Labour Friends of Apartheid.
For those reasons, married to the way he has attacked Corbyn’s leadership in no uncertain terms over the past few months, I cannot agree with those who consider that Khan’s election will help solidify Corbyn. On the contrary, Sadiq Khan’s election comes as a threat to him given that the office of London Mayor is the perfect platform from which to contradict, oppose and undermine the most progressive and left wing leader the Labour Party has had since the Second World War. Here the old saw proves its worth: while in the House of Commons Corbyn’s opponents are arrayed opposite him him, his enemies are sitting behind and even alongside him.
Sadiq Khan’s election as Mayor of London was not a victory for Labour it was a victory for the Labour Right, which remains committed to supplanting a leader they view as an impostor on the way to returning the party to its ‘rightful owners’. It must be said that despite Corbyn’s mandate they have managed to do more damage than they should have up been able to up to this point. And the reason is the lack of a willingness to fight that has thus far been the modus operandi. Here, the establishment of an inquiry into antisemitism within Labour cannot be considered anything other than abject surrender to the nostrums of what is tantamount to McCarthyism redux.
Where Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party is concerned, Sadiq Khan arrives at City Hall not merely as the leader of one of the world’s major cities. He also arrives as the most likely to wield the knife when the inevitable challenge to Corbyn is mounted from within.
As Shakespeare writes in Macbeth, ‘there’s daggers in men’s smiles.’