Stunning victory over multimillionaire former tax exile Zac Goldsmith rubbishes claims Labour can’t win
NAYSAYERS who said Labour would become “unelectable” under Jeremy Corbyn were slapped in the face last night as Sadiq Khan stormed to victory in the capital.
Mr Khan’s victory topped a crown of positive results for Labour across England, where the party held onto all but one of the councils it was predicted to lose.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis called on the “baying hounds” attacking Mr Corbyn to “back off” from “bickering in TV studios” so that Labour can “unite behind a vision that can win in four years’ time.”
The London result was received as a massive rejection of the “dog-whistle” racism of his Tory opponent Zac Goldsmith, who repeatedly attempted to link Mr Khan to Islamic extremists in a bid to discredit him.
Even top Tories weighed in to savage multimillionaire former tax exile Mr Goldsmith’s tactics after polls closed yesterday. London Assembly member Andrew Boff, himself a former mayoral contender, said the campaign had been “outrageous.”
“I don’t think it was dog-whistle, because you can’t hear a dog whistle. Everybody could hear this,” he said.
“It was effectively saying that people of conservative religious views are not to be trusted and you shouldn’t share a platform with them and that’s outrageous.”
But Labour MP Tulip Siddiq said Mr Boff’s criticism was “too little, too late.”
She stormed: “It’s all very well for senior Tories to criticise Zac’s racist campaign now, but where have you been for the last six months?”
Labour also picked up new seats on the London Assembly which had always previously been held by the Tories — though the body has virtually no power.
Mr Khan has promised measures to curb excessive rents and a crackdown on foreign speculators snapping up new flats for investment.
He also campaigned to put an end to his predecessor Boris Johnson’s whopping public transport fare rises and refusal to negotiate with transport unions.
His victory was welcomed by train drivers’ union Aslef, whose general secretary Mick Whelan said: “A world-class capital city like London deserves a world-class public transport system and that is what Sadiq has promised to put in place.
“I know he will work with the trade unions — those who deliver the system — to make it work better, for passengers and staff. Sadiq has promised to replace confrontation with consultation and that can only be good for TfL as well as for the staff.
“We have had eight wasted years here in London with just a few vanity projects while Boris Johnson plotted to replace David Cameron as Prime Minister.”
Mr Khan has repeatedly insisted that the mayoral election is “not a referendum” on Mr Corbyn’s leadership.
But key party figures yesterday begged to differ. Momentum national committee member Sam Tarry, an east London councillor and political officer for transport union TSSA, said the London victory should be credited to both Mr Khan’s own efforts and Mr Corbyn’s popularity in the capital.
And he said “naysayer” MPs such as Michael Dugher and Jess Phillips had “an awful lot to answer for” in talking down Labour’s chances.
“That hope and that inspiration that Jeremy brought over the summer is actually there and actually really delivering for us in the streets,” he told BBC News.