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Sadiq Khan - The new face of London

Luglio 2016
“Non sono un leader né un portavoce musulmano. Sono un londinese, un figlio e un padre.” Così ha voluto precisare Sadiq Khan poco dopo la sua elezione a sindaco di Londra. Un avvocato di origini pakistane, che in realtà avrebbe voluto fare il dentista...

di Jonathan Cameron

File audio:

Sadiq Khan
Sadiq Khan

Speaker: Justin Ratcliffe (Standard British accent)

Sadiq Khan, 45, is a man in the news at the moment. In May he became the new mayor of London. He is the son of Pakistani immigrants and he is a Muslim. He is the first Muslim mayor of a major western city, or at least a major city in Europe. Calgary in Canada and Rotterdam in the Netherlands also have Muslim mayors, but they are smaller. Observers hope that the election of a Muslim mayor in London will be a positive sign at a time when Islamophobia, racism and xenophobia are increasing.


The mayor of London is a relatively new job. The first mayor of London was elected in 2000. Before then the British capital’s number one citizen was “the leader of the Greater London Council,” or “GLC.” Sadiq Khan is London’s third mayor. His two predecessors were certainly colourful characters. The first London mayor was Ken Livingstone, a left-wing Labour Party politician whose nickname was “Red Ken.” In 2008 another eccentric, the Conservative Boris Johnson, succeeded him.


Sadiq Khan is probably a less colourful  character, and this is a good thing. Like Ken Livingstone, he is a member of the Labour Party, but he is more moderate. Last year he supported Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign to become leader of the Party, but he kept his distance from him during his campaign to become mayor. Corbyn is very left-wing, and Khan didn’t want to alienate moderate voters. It was an effective strategy and he won easily against his Conservative opponent, Zac Goldsmith.


Goldsmith is the son of the late billionaire tycoon, Sir James Goldsmith. Khan’s background is very different. He grew up in South London, in the district of Tooting. His father was a bus driver. Goldsmith, like Boris Johnson and David Cameron, went to Eton, Britain’s most exclusive private school: Khan went to a local state “comprehensive.” He wanted to become dentist but a teacher suggested he became a lawyer, because he was “argumentative.”  After studying law at university he worked as a solicitor before entering politics. He later became the Member of Parliament for Tooting.
Khan certainly faces many challenges as mayor. London has become a city of the rich. In his manifesto Khan said that the housing crisis was his “first priority.”  He also said: “London is the greatest city in the world. But we are at a crossroads.”

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Comprehensive. Scuola statale dove si studia dagli 11 anni fino ai 16, oppure 18. Queste scuole hanno preso il posto di un altro sistema, grammar schools e secondary moderns, negli anni ‘70.

We are at a crossroads.  Siamo al bivio. Crossroads significa letteralmente l’incrocio stradale ma si usa nel senso figurato per dire bivio. Bivio (nel senso letterale) in inglese si dice a fork in the road. Per la cronaca, Crossroads era anche il nome di una popolarissima soap opera britannica che andava in onda dal 1964 al 1988.