Sadiq Khan’s election as London Mayor is a boost for the campaign to oust Corbyn

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.’

 

31 comments on “Sadiq Khan’s election as London Mayor is a boost for the campaign to oust Corbyn

  1. jock mctrousers on said:

    Yes, that’s how I see it, more or less. Khan – freeze tube fares for four years, and affordable housing – whoopee! Pull other one.

  2. Vanya on said:

    What this doesn’t address is the question of how a defeat for Khan would have affected Corbyn’s leadership. Or in fact whether or not it was right to support him.

    John, you stated in the discussion about Brexit that you’d changed your position on the latter, having previously backed Galloway’s candidature. What are you saying here?

  3. John on said:

    Vanya: What are you saying here?

    I was wrong. I did not appreciate the extent to which the campaign to oust Corbyn was organised and advanced.

    John Haylett mentioned that there’s a rumour David Miliband may be the Labour candidate in the Tooting by-election.

    I hate to say it but I feel JC is toast. Khan is being touted as the man of the hour, the liberal establishment are promoting him as Britain’s answer to Obama and Labour’s leader in waiting.

  4. jock mctrousers on said:

    John: there’s a rumour David Miliband may be the Labour candidate in the Tooting by-election.

    you know these things in the Harry Potter films, the ghastly warders of the wizard prison, that suck all hope out of you – can’t remember what they’re called… Millibands?

    Well, maybe Khan will turn out to be a nice wee guy, and a defender of the working class….

    There’s a slight link here, but I’ll get to it at the end

    Anyway, since the International Women’s Day thread is closed, here’s a new post from John Ward which I hope will be of interest. I don’t know of anyone else who writes about WASPI:
    FIVE WEEKS IN PREPARATION, A WASPI COMMONS DEBATE GETS JUST 5 MINUTES OF TIME
    https://hat4uk.wordpress.com/2016/05/09/waspis-in-parliament-one-of-those-rare-occasions-when-i-so-wanted-to-be-wrong/

    The on-topic link is “…a Labour response so pathetic as to make obvious the problem is not one of responsible Opposition, but rather a level of Opposition that is homoaeopathic on it’s way down to sub-atomic.”

  5. Vanya on said:

    A clear example of the way the BBC works just now.

    Corbyn raises the issue of the Posted Workers’ Directive and gets the piss taken by Andrew Neil, for knowing about something he admits to being ignorant of, backed up by selected tweets from “viewers”.

  6. Zaid on said:

    John: I hate to say it but I feel JC is toast. Khan is being touted as the man of the hour, the liberal establishment are promoting him as Britain’s answer to Obama and Labour’s leader in waiting.

    This is unduly pessimistic. The media may be promoting Khan today but it was Benn not too long ago and it will be somebody else a month from now. It means nothing.

    Given the balance of forces and the political terrain, I think Jeremy has done brilliantly so far.

  7. John on said:

    Zaid: The media may be promoting Khan today but it was Benn not too long ago and it will be somebody else a month from now. It means nothing.

    I believe you are wrong on multiple levels. Firstly, Khan has just been elected Mayor of London. This is a hugely significant office in the country, given London’s centrality to the economy, politics, culture, and global brand. Secondly, Benn has made it clear in his words and actions that he has no ambitions to become leader of the party. Can you honestly say the same about Khan? Has Benn attacked Corbyn as vociferously or publicly as Khan has and continues to?

    There is zero comparison, none whatsoever. Khan is intent on mounting a leadership bid in due time, I remain convinced of it. He has the perfect platform from which to do so and more crucially the ambition and backing of the right of the party and its supporters within the media.

  8. jock mctrousers on said:

    Anyone got any insight’s into Khan’s rise? Why him? What’s his power base within the party? Etc?

  9. Vanya on said:

    #8 An example of how a qualitative change in political circumstances can work- I agree wholeheartedly with ZaId, possibly for the first time 🙂

    John (and Jock Mc T) now is not the time for such negativity. Unless of course you can let us in on Plan B.

    The philosophers have only interpreted the world…

  10. P Spence on said:

    The Left must take control of the Party machine. There is little evidence however of that yet but it remains early days. Ward and CLP AGMs are occurring in May and June including selection of delegates to conference. That needs to be the focus of all activists in coming months. We have the numbers but can we mobilise them to go the key meetings. Momentum is still a work in progress but that doesn’t stop Corbynistas taking the initiative and organising locally against the dinosaur neoliberal Right.

  11. john Grimshaw on said:

    I see Khan was quoted on the TV news yesterday as criticising Corbyn for not getting the anti-Semite crisis right. Not being tough enough etc. To me that sounds like an attack on the leader. I don’t think Corbyn can expect any real support from the new mayor.

  12. Matty on said:

    The headline at least is a joke. So it would have been better if Jowell had beaten Khan and/or if Goldsmith had beaten Khan?

  13. Vanya on said:

    John: In terms of Corbyn’s leadership it would not have made a blind bit of difference.

    I think it clearly would have.

    You seriously don’t think that the Blairites would have treated a Tory victory as a huge green light to go on the offensive and that confidence in Corbyn would have taken a battering?

    It’s possible for phenomena to have internally contradictory characteristics. In fact it’s the norm.

    In other words, yes the Blairites now do have a potential new figurehead, and yes, his position as mayor of London gives him a massive platform, but the reality is that Jeremy won the support of the majority of Labour Party members in a result that absolutely nobody could predict only a few months before it happened.

    Now is not the time for negativity, particularly when no alternative is being offered.

  14. John on said:

    Labour candidate for the Tooting by-election appears eminently electable, given that she is an A&E doctor of Pakistani and Polish heritage, lives and works in the community, and is a sitting Wandsworth Labour councillor.

    I’m not sure what her politics are – i.e. right or left of the party – but if she has the same position on a given issue today as she had yesterday, she already represents an improvement on Sadiq Khan.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-36294002

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-36294002

  15. John on said:

    Vanya: You seriously don’t think that the Blairites would have treated a Tory victory as a huge green light to go on the offensive and that confidence in Corbyn would have taken a battering?

    This infers that he isn’t taking a battering now. I disagree. Khan went out of his way to keep Corbyn away from his mayoral campaign and thereby brand himself as the antidote to Corbyn rather than a candidate benefitting from Corbyn’s leadership.

    This is the real contradiction in the analysis being proferred that Khan’s victory is a boost to Corbyn’s leadership. It is not.

    Vanya: Now is not the time for negativity, particularly when no alternative is being offered.

    This strikes me as idealism that fails to grasp the serious ramifications for years and years to come should Corbyn’s leadership hit the buffers under pressure of the right witnin Labour and their fellow travellers in boardrooms across the country..

    There is an alternative. It is to fight back against a right wing witchhunt that if allowed to succeed would not just demoralise the left both within and without the LP, but would institionalise unconditional support for the State of Israel within Labour, thereby making it complicit in tapartheid, ethnic cleansing and multiple other injustices beeing suffered

  16. George Galloway has announced that he will not be running in Tooting. A good decision given the danger of a Tory win in this marginal.

  17. Vanya on said:

    #19 Corbyn’s leadership may or may not face problems from Khan, but it would have suffered far more if the Tories had won the mayoral election.

    I don’t dispute that there’s a fight on- we always knew that there would be and that it would not be easy- but the tone of your piece and subsequent comments suggested that your prognosis of blairism and/ or zionism triumphing was over-pessimistic.

  18. jock mctrousers on said:

    Woops! No he isn’t! Going to give us affordable housing. That’s what Labour Party canvassers told me was the difference between Khan and Goldsmith. Affordable housing.

  19. Zaid on said:

    John: There is zero comparison, none whatsoever. Khan is intent on mounting a leadership bid in due time, I remain convinced of it. He has the perfect platform from which to do so and more crucially the ambition and backing of the right of the party and its supporters within the media.

    I consider this unlikely.

    Firstly, Khan may be ambitious but he has nothing more of substance to say than did Burnham, Cooper, and Kendall. There is only so far you can go by pointing out over and over again that you are the son of an immigrant bus-driver. Secondly and more importantly, he will be mayor of London until after the general election. I don’t know if any rules formally forbid it, but I find it difficult to believe he could be a candidate in a leadership election, travel round the country for debates and hustings etc while still actively being mayor. His position is not a “perfect platform” to mount a leadership bid – it is an obstacle.

  20. jock mctrousers on said:

    Zaid,

    Yes, a leadership bid would have to be years away , but in the meantime he could make himself a focus of dissent. However, so far all he looks like making is a fool of himself: he can’ t deliver affordable housing now because Boris left the cupboard bare?

  21. Rashida Islam on said:

    John,

    So what is your strategy for defending Jeremy? It’s no good telling enthusiastic supporters to give up. Corbyn remains overwhelmingly popular with the membership. This surely should count for something and determine what best use of resources should be. It’s why it’s imperative for new members and supporters to embed themselves within labour party structures. There needs to be a regular voice defending Jeremy to counter the toxic right.

  22. John: John Haylett mentioned that there’s a rumour David Miliband may be the Labour candidate in the Tooting by-election.

    But he didn’t seek the nomination, and he isn’t the candidate, is he.

  23. Vanya: yes the Blairites now do have a potential new figurehead

    Sadiq Khan is not a Blairite, and whatever opportunist spats there may be between him and the leadership in the press, I expect Sadiq to run a competent and progressive mayorality over practical issues, and to work well with the trade unions and the grassroots membership, as he always has.

  24. Vanya on said:

    #28 You may be right. However, I think the Blairites would clearly prefer Khan to JC.

  25. Vanya on said:

    Interestingly, on the subject of internal opposition to JC, the first issue a number of Blairites in the Shadow Cabinet raised as a concern was that he wasn’t sufficiently (if at all) pro-EU.

  26. John Grimshaw on said:

    Vanya,

    I have always assumed that Corbyn is anti-EU membership for the UK but under the current circumstances has decided to remain quiet for the sake of unity. He’s hardly been campaigning strongly. Was it Henri IV who said something like Paris deserves a few masses.