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Labour’s Sadiq Khan is re-elected as Mayor of London

Sadiq Khan, the Labor Party mayor of London, stormed to victory today, securing a record third consecutive term at City Hall, on another hugely disappointing day for Britain’s governing Conservatives, in the in the run-up to the impending general election.

Khan won just over a million votes, or almost 44% of the vote, more than 11 percentage points ahead of his main challenger, the Conservative Party’s Susan Hall. He has the largest individual mandate of any politician in Britain.

There was frenzied speculation on Friday that the result would be closer than previously thought, but Khan’s victory marked a swing from Conservative to Labor compared to the previous mayoral elections in 2021, even though they took place under a different electoral system.

Khan, who replaced Boris Johnson as mayor of London in 2016 and who has widespread police and budgetary powers, has become an increasingly divisive figure in recent years regardless of the facts for or against, especially in the suburbs, where he has fared worse than in 2016. the city center.

His supporters say he has several achievements to his name, including expanding housing, free school meals for young children, controlling transport costs and generally supporting London’s minority groups. His critics say he has overseen a rise in crime, been anti-car and unnecessarily allowed pro-Palestinian marches to become a regular feature of weekends.

“We faced a campaign of non-stop negativity, but I couldn’t be prouder that we answered the fearmongering with facts, hate with hope and attempts to sow division with attempts to unite,” Khan said at the announcement of the end result. . Among the candidates behind him was Count Binface, with his head covered by a rubbish bin, a regular colorful presence at British elections.

“We ran a campaign that was in keeping with the spirit and values ​​of this great city, a city that sees our diversity not as a weakness but as an all-powerful force, and one that rejects right-wing hard-line populism and looks forward, not back ,” added Khan.

The incumbent Labor mayors in Liverpool, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire were also re-elected on Saturday. For Labour, perhaps the best result was achieved in the West Midlands, widely regarded as the key region of Britain where the incumbent Conservative party lost.

The latest successes for Labor came after it took control of councils across England, which it had not had for decades. The party was also successful in a special election for a seat in parliament, which, if translated into a general election, would lead to one of the biggest ever defeats for the Conservatives.

Although the Conservatives suffered a drubbing in the local elections, it appears Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will not face further rebellion among his ranks.

Sunak was able to breathe a sigh of relief when the Conservative mayor of Tees Valley in the northeast of England was re-elected, albeit with a low number of votes. Sunak had hoped Andy Street would hold on in the West Midlands, but he lost to Labour’s Richard Parker, who claimed a majority of less than 2,000 votes.

One negative for Labor was that the mood in heavily Muslim areas of England was depressed by opposition to the party leadership’s strongly pro-Israel position on the war in Gaza.

Starmer admitted the party has had problems with Muslim voters, but the results have been generally positive for the man favorite to become prime minister at the next general election.

Sunak has the power to decide the date of the next election, and has indicated it will be in the second half of 2024. Starmer urged him not to wait.

“We are tired of your division, your chaos and your failure,” he said on Saturday. “If you leave your country 14 years later in a worse state than when you found it, you don’t deserve to be in government any longer.”

The elections in many parts of England were important in their own right, with voters deciding who managed many aspects of their daily lives, such as waste collection, road maintenance and local crime prevention. But now that national elections are approaching, they are being viewed through a national prism.

John Curtice, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, said the results showed Sunak had not helped the Conservative brand after the damage suffered by the actions of his predecessors, Boris Johnson and then Liz Truss.

“That, in a sense, is the most important conclusion,” he told the BBC.

Sunak became Prime Minister in October 2022, after Truss’s short-lived term in office. She left office after 49 days following a budget of unfunded tax cuts that roiled financial markets and raised borrowing costs for homeowners.

Her chaotic – and traumatic – leadership exacerbated the Conservatives’ problems after the circus surrounding her predecessor Johnson, who was forced to quit after being declared to have lied to Parliament about coronavirus lockdown breaches in his Downing Street office .

By late afternoon on Saturday, when most of the 2,661 seats up for grabs in the local elections had been counted, the Conservatives had lost about half of the 1,000 seats they were defending, while Labor had won about 200 despite some apparent Gaza-related losses.

Other parties, such as the centrist Liberal Democrats and the Greens, also made gains. Reform UK, which is trying to usurp the Conservatives from the right, also had some successes, most notably in the special parliamentary election in Blackpool South, where it was less than 200 votes away from second place.