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Sadiq Khan wins second term in tense mayoral election

Labour candidate Sadiq Khan has been re-elected as the Mayor of London defeating Conservative hopeful Shaun Bailey to secure a second term in City Hall.

Khan won over 1,013,721 first-preference votes compared to Bailey’s 893,051, and then a further 192,313 second-preference votes to Bailey’s 84,550 after ballots were cast on the 6th of May.

The contest ended 55-45% with a turnout of 42%.

In his victory speech, Khan said he was “deeply humbled” to be re-elected and pledged to build a “better and brighter future” for the capital after the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking to the Evening Standard, he also promised to “bring London together” by avoiding the “culture war which is tearing the country apart” and healing the ‘scars’ of Brexit and the pandemic. He also announced a £6m ‘Let’s Do London’ initiative which will encourage Londoners to take “staycations” in the city as lockdown eases and entertainment venues reopen.

The result was a brief reprieve for the Labour Party which has suffered dispiriting results in local council elections and the Hartlepool parliamentary by-election – losing the seat to the Conservatives for the first time since its creation in 1974.

But it wasn’t all plain sailing for the incumbent. As the votes rolled in, campaign insiders grew nervous as the Conservatives gained Brent, Harrow, and Ealing and Hillingdon from Labour. Khan eventually emerged with a diminished majority of 228,000, greatly bolstered by second preference votes.

Nevertheless, the margin was second only to his victory in 2016 when he became the first Labour Mayor of London since 2008 and the first Muslim Mayor of a European capital by defeating Conservative rival Zac Goldsmith with a seismic 57% to 43%.

The returning Mayor suggested he still held a “decent mandate” having secured more than 1.2m votes.

In his speech, Shaun Bailey, who had been consistently polled at around 30% until the election, said Londoners had not “written him off”.

“When you come from where I come from and see the things I’ve seen as a poor boy who’s been homeless, who’s been unemployed, a youth worker in the city – you understand London is generous in spirit and will give you a hearing.”

Sadiq Khan will lead the city for a further three years, his usual four-year term shortened by the delay of the election by a year due to the covid-19 pandemic.

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