Does anyone on the other side of the Pond care about the Greater London Authority (GLA) elections that we have just had? Actually, not that many people care on this side of the Pond either and even in London the turn-out, much trumpeted by the media as being spectacularly high, was merely 45.30%, exactly the same as it was in 2008 when Boris Johnson was first elected to be Mayor. As I explained some years ago, the Mayor of London is not the same as the Lord Mayor, a position of many centuries’ standing in the City. So, more than half of London’s electorate did not bother to vote, possibly because the Mayor does not have a great deal of power and the Assembly has none or possibly because all the candidates were paralyzingly dull.
Nevertheless, Sadiq Khan’s election is a significant event in British political history: we have had Muslims in Parliament and even one or two in the Cabinet (the Conservative one, naturally); there are many Muslims in local councils and that tale has not been particularly happy. But this is the first time a supposedly practising Muslim has been elected to a reasonably high position.
The excitement about him getting the highest number of direct votes of any British politician in British history is humbug. There are no other places as large as London where direct votes are cast in our system. Altogether Sadiq Khan got 1,310,143 votes; in 2008, with the same turn-out, Boris Johnson got 1,168,738 votes, undoubtedly the highest number at the time of what any British politician had got in a direct vote. I do not recall anybody mentioning this.
I wrote a blog on the subject and some of CBz readers might be interested in reading it.