I’m so proud to have won an overwhelming mandate in London to continue serving as mayor. I’m deeply humbled by the trust that Londoners have placed in me once again and I will strain every sinew to deliver for London. My mission over the next three years is to put the dark days of the pandemic behind us and to deliver a better and brighter future for London; creating a greener, fairer, safer and more prosperous city, where everyone gets the opportunities they need to fulfil their potential.
The commentary over the next few days will no doubt be dominated by what the results mean for the prospects of the main political parties and leaders. But one of the biggest concerns is how the results – both in London and across the UK – show how we are becoming increasingly divided. The scars of Brexit are yet to heal. A crude culture war is pushing us further apart. There’s a growing gap between our cities and towns. And economic inequality is getting worse – both within our cities and between different parts of the country.
This should not just be of interest to us because of how it’s impacting the political map, but because of how it’s impacting our everyday lives, how people relate to one another, and how it’s negatively affecting the health of our society, economy and communities. If we allow these divisions to continue to widen it will be to the detriment of everyone in our country – no matter which political party you support – and will inevitably hold us back as we seek to recover from this devasting pandemic.
So, as we now work to rebuild London and the whole country, we simply must use this moment of national recovery to try to heal these damaging divisions. Part of this must be about politicians moving away from the increasingly common practice of encouraging people and communities to define themselves by what they are against, rather than by what we have in common with others and our shared hopes for the future.
I often talk about the different experiences I’ve lived during my life and how they have shaped my identity. I do so because these experiences have forged my cast-iron belief that there’s far more that unites us than divides us. I grew up on a council estate, a working-class boy, a child of immigrants. But I went on to become a lawyer, attend cabinet in government and then become the mayor of London.
The truth is, like so many others across the country, I have multiple identities that coexist. I’m a Londoner through and through – but I’m also a patriotic Englishman and Brit, who’s proud to represent this nation’s great capital.
The experiences I’ve had throughout my life have shaped my belief that we all have a responsibility to do everything we can to build the bridges that bring us together, rather than the walls that only drive us further apart. I’ve tried to live by this as mayor and throughout my political career, but it’s become more important than ever now.
The last year has shown the immense power of unity over division and of community over self. Covid doesn’t care whether you live in London or Hartlepool, whether you’re a Brexiteer or a Remainer, or what you think it means to be “woke”. We are only managing to defeat the virus by acting together – and by helping each other.
We must now capture and harness this spirit of unity and cooperation; because it’s clear the way for us to come back as a stronger country after this pandemic is if we work together and seek to heal the divisions that are holding Britain back.
That’s why it’s in this spirit that I promise to lead London over the next three years: building bridges between the different communities in our city, building bridges across cultural and class divides, building bridges between London and the rest of the country to ensure London can play its part in the national recovery, and building bridges between City Hall and the government.
Sadiq Khan is the mayor of London