Labour's Sadiq Khan wins record third term as London mayor

Labour's Sadiq Khan wins record third term as London mayor
The Labour Party's Sadiq Khan has won the vote for London mayor for the third time, winnining over a million votes.
4 min read
Khan has secured a record third straight term at City Hall [GETTY]

Sadiq Khan, the Labour Party's mayor of London, romped to victory Saturday, securing a record third straight term at City Hall, on another hugely disappointing day for the UK's governing Conservatives ahead of a looming general election.

Khan won a little over a million votes, or nearly 44% of the vote, more than 11 percentage points ahead of his main challenger, the Conservative Party's Susan Hall. He did particularly well in inner London but struggled in several outer boroughs.

There had been frenzied speculation on Friday that the result would be closer than previously thought, but Khan's lead showed a swing from Conservative to Labour compared to the previous mayoral election in 2021.

Khan, who replaced Boris Johnson as London mayor in 2016, has been an increasingly divisive in the past few years.

While his supporters say he has multiple achievements to his name, such as expanding housebuilding, free school meals for young children, keeping transport costs in check, and generally backing London's minority groups, his critics say he has overseen a crime surge, been anti-car, and unnecessarily allowed pro-Palestinian marches to become a regular feature at weekends.

"Sadiq Khan was absolutely the right candidate," said Labour leader Keir Starmer. "He has got two terms of delivery behind him, and I am confident that he has got another term of delivery in front of him."

The incumbent Labour mayors in Liverpool, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire were also re-elected Saturday, while the party looks to have ousted the Conservative mayor in West Midlands. A recount is underway there.

Live Story

The latest successes came a day after Labour seized control of councils across England, which it hadn't held for decades. The party was also successful in a special election for a seat in Parliament, which, if translated to a general election, would lead to one of the Conservatives' biggest-ever defeats.

Though the Conservatives suffered a drubbing in the local elections, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appears unlikely to face a further rebellion among his ranks.

Sunak breathed a sigh of relief when the Conservative mayor of Tees Valley in northeast England was re-elected, albeit with a depressed share of the vote. Sunak had hoped that Andy Street would hold on in the West Midlands, but he may have lost.

One negative for Labour was that its vote in strongly Muslim areas in England was depressed by opposition to the party leadership's strongly pro-Israel stance over the war on Gaza.

Starmer conceded that the party had issues with Muslim voters, but the results were generally positive for the man who was the favourite to become prime minister at the next general election.

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

"We're fed up with your division, with your chaos, with your failure," he said Saturday. "If you leave your country in a worse state than when you found it 14 years later, you do not deserve to be in government a moment longer."

Thursday's elections in large parts of England were important, with voters deciding who runs many aspects of their daily lives, such as garbage collection, road maintenance and local crime prevention. But with a national election looming, they are being viewed through a national prism.

John Curtice, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, said the results show that Sunak has not helped the Conservative brand following the damage accrued by the actions of his predecessors, Boris Johnson and then Liz Truss.

"That in a sense is the big takeaway," he told BBC radio.

Sunak became prime minister in October 2022, after Truss's short-lived tenure. She left office after 49 days following a budget of unfunded tax cuts that roiled financial markets and sent borrowing costs for homeowners surging.

Her chaotic and traumatic leadership compounded the Conservatives' difficulties following the circus surrounding her predecessor, Johnson, who was forced to quit after being sentenced to have lied to Parliament over coronavirus lockdown breaches at his offices in Downing Street.

By late afternoon Saturday, with most of the 2,661 seats up for grabs in the local elections counted, the Conservatives had lost around half of the 1,000 seats they were defending, while Labour had picked up about 200 despite some seemingly Gaza-related losses.

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