Our editor wrote elsewhere this morning that Zac Goldsmith wasn’t wrong to probe Sadiq Khan on some of his previous political connexions.
In the course of the campaign the new Mayor has apologised for using a racial slur and expressed regret that he gave the impression of subscribing to the views of some of those his work as a human rights lawyer brought him into contact with.
The mistake was that such probing ended up being almost all of Goldsmith’s campaign, eclipsing any positive message.
Such monomania helped to convince many, not just opponents but Conservative-supporting Muslims too, that there was a dodgy, ‘dog-whistle’ undertone to the attacks.
It also left the Tories nowhere to go when Khan neutralised those negatives, which he worked very hard to do.
Not only did he issue the aforementioned apologies, but he took pains to try to reach out beyond his base – for example, by giving one of his first interviews to the Jewish Chronicle, in which he promised not to “be another Ken Livingstone”.
Yet as Conservative recriminations over the mayoral election begin, it is important that we continue to scrutinise Labour’s new mayor to make sure that he does not, deliberately or inadvertently, re-establish the rather rotten Labour regime that blossomed under Livingstone.
One of Boris’ successes at City Hall has been the quiet side-lining of an array of groups, from radical left-wingers to Islamist sympathisers, who had enjoyed the patronage of the mayor’s office under his predecessor.
Khan may not think much of his Tory opponent’s campaign, but he should not trick himself into thinking that the London public is therefore unconcerned about political and religious hard-liners. His decision to distance himself from Jeremy Corbyn during the campaign suggests he recognises this.
Yet the far left now in control at the very top of Labour, and new groups like Momentum working hard to bring hard-line activists into the party, the new mayor may face a real challenge to keep his operation free of Corbynite elements.
If he wants to live up to his promises to the public, Khan must be constantly vigilant against any attempt by elements of London Labour to re-establish the relationships Boris has severed.