When Labour’s Sadiq Khan was elected mayor of London in 2016, following a particularly hateful campaign, riven with racist overtones, from his Conservative rival Zac Goldsmith, it felt like a victory for all that was good about the city: the election of London’s first Muslim mayor signalled that the city would judge everyone on their merits and not on their ethnicity, faith or the colour of their skin.
Born in Tooting in South London, to parents who had emigrated from Pakistan in the 1960s, Khan lived in a council flat with his family before he studied law and became a solicitor, entering politics in 2005.
However, along the way, he has constantly had to deal with the spectre of racism and comments on his ethnicity, not least in that mayoral election, but also of the everyday nature. Questions like “No, but where are you actually from?” that anyone who is non-white and living in the UK will no doubt have had to deal with over the years.
Which is probably why he managed to deal with a particularly dumb question with such ease.
Khan is currently in Pakistan, and made a historic walk across the only land border crossing between India and Pakistan on Wednesday.
And he was asked by a reporter: “What does it feel like coming home?”
To which he replied, without missing a beat: “Home is south London, mate. But it’s good to be in Pakistan. It’s good to come from India, home of my parents and grandparents.”
The exchange was caught on camera, with Artwork tweeting the footage:
He later tweeted his own response, saying: “You can take the man out of Tooting…”
Fair play Sadiq, fair play.