It is a tale of ‘grass to grace’ for Sadiq Khan, the son of a Pakistani bus driver, who was on Saturday elected the new Mayor of London after being appointed the first Muslim leader of a major Western capital, as the Conservatives defended attempts to link him to extremism during the campaign.
Mr Khan is the city’s first Muslim mayor, after beating Tory Zac Goldsmith by 1,310,143 votes to 994,614.
At his signing-in ceremony at Southwark Cathedral, backed by a secular choir, the Labour mayor said he wanted the moment to herald the start of a City Hall run for all Londoners and all communities. He said he hoped to “ put aside party-political differences”.
“My name is Sadiq Khan and I’m the mayor of London,” the 45-year-old said to cheers from supporters, who had earlier given him a standing ovation as he walked in.
He added: “I’m determined to lead the most transparent, engaged and accessible administration London has ever seen, and to represent every single community, and every single part of our city, as mayor for all Londoners.”
Mr Khan’s victory, which gave him the largest personal mandate of any politician in UK history, ends eight years of Conservative control of City Hall.
In his victory speech, he referred to his humble origins on a council estate and said he had never imagined that “someone like me could be elected as mayor of London,” promising to be a mayor “for all Londoners”.
Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron had led the attacks against Khan for sharing platforms with radical Muslims at public events, and Goldsmith said he was “radical and divisive”.
There was criticism from across the political spectrum on Saturday at the tone of the Tory campaign, but Defence Secretary Michael Fallon insisted it was legitimate.
“Both candidates were asked questions about their backgrounds, their personalities, their judgment, the people they associate with,” he told BBC radio.
“That’s the nature of our democracy and the rough-and-tumble of politics.”
The new mayor, Sadiq Khan, did not have a privileged start in life. He was one of eight children born to Pakistani immigrants, a bus driver and a seamstress, on a South London housing estate.