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Sunday, 15 May 2016

Secularism in the City

Interesting if not exactly coherent from Salvatore Murtas at Conservative Home as he argues that the election of Sadiq Khan as Mayor of London is a "challenge to secularism."

This "challenge" is based on Khan's identification of himself as the Muslim son of a Pakistani bus driver. Thus introducing religion into the mayoral election.

Well hang on. Sadiq Khan is who he is. We elect people as a whole package. So the previous Mayor was a blond. posh, philandering part-Turkish, part-American, part-Swiss, part-French, part-royal, Latin-speaking buffoon. You get the whole package when you elect a London mayor.

Two things stand against Khan's identification of himself as a "Muslim" challenging secularism. One is that Khan's voting record in parliament would cause some of the more extreme Islamists to consider him not a true Muslim. And an apostate, to people like that, is worse than people who aren't Muslims at all. The other is that the Muslim population of London is about 12% of the overall population. You can't win London by simply appealing to the "Muslim" vote, any more than the "Jewish" one or the "Catholic" one. You can by getting out the Labour vote.

London is a Labour city. All things being equal, it will elect a Labour Mayor. Boris Johnson has the sort of personality that stopped all things being equal - a kind of one-man melting pot, incoherent politically, often utterly amusing but then frequently just as frustrating - he is the sort of person who can represent London.

All Sadiq Khan had to do, to be elected, was to be dignified and have as much personality as his opponent. That his opponent was a kind of Boris-lite, a posh bloke without the Boris charm who indulged in some nasty sneers, meant Khan's job was simpler.

Sadiq Khan has seized the opportunity that London at its best offers - to climb from a working class background, from an immigrant family, and become a lawyer, an MP, and now the mayor of the City that gave his family a home. He is a true Londoner.

This is no challenge to secularism. Women aren't being made to cover up in Hyde Park. The pubs are not being forcibly closed in Kentish Town. London went to the polls and elected the best candidate. That's all.

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