Ah, Sadiq Khan, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways. London’s mayor is hotfooting it into the vacant space left in our hearts by Barack Obama. (We were saving a spot for Justin Trudeau but Sadiq is just so local.)
So as we approach his first anniversary as mayor; what has he done to cement his place there?
Well, for starters, his politics are on point. Our first Muslim mayor has been a much-needed shot of diversity in the swirling political maelstrom of Trump, Brexit and Le Pen. Khan – a big Remainer and former human rights lawyer – is also a proven staunch feminist (remember banning those ‘Protein World’ ads?) who has overseen the appointment of the first ever female fire brigade and police commissioners.
He’s a hands-on dad to two daughters, is married to the brilliantly ballsy lawyer Saadiya Khan and has his own hashtag #teamkhan. In a recent interview with The Sunday Times, we also learnt the following: he plays footie with his mates on a Sunday, is currently binge-watching Peaky Blinders and Taboo with his wife (hi there, secret guy crush on Tom Hardy?) and, oh yes: “I know who… Skepta and Stormzy are.”
Khan’s not like a regular mayor, he’s a cool mayor.
Case in point is his Twitter feed. Now, we’re not totally sold on politicians on Twitter – just look at a certain US president – but Sadiq’s Twitter is one professional example of how to do it: woke, smart and subtly humorous.
The modern mayor’s feed is his first port of call to promote his campaigns, from his clean air initiative to his Skills for Londoners body. The man also loves a good retweet, from local papers to the Evening Standard and, recently, Pink News, when they commended him for his special task force – the first in the country – to combat online hate crimes. He even retweets articles that criticise him, like the reports after he pulled support for the Garden Bridge.
There’s a reason he resonates so well with millennials. Not only is he speaking their language by utilising social media (his Facebook game is also strong), he’s working hard on some of their most pressing issues – his efforts to create more jobs: "I want all Londoners to have the same opportunities I had growing up"; his £3.15bn investment to create affordable housing; and his drive to make renting fair: "Having seen first-hand the shocking conditions Londoners face as a result of rogue landlords – I'm taking action."
Sadiq keeps his Twitter a snappy almost-livestream of London events, from the Tate’s Hockney exhibition ("Well worth a visit #LondonIsOpen") to photos of himself with Anthony Joshua following the weekend’s big fight: "Top class talent, world class venues & the best fight fans. Record breaking 90K crowd at #JoshuaKlitchsko shows #LondonIsOpen for sport." He even tweeted as he jumped on the very first Night Tube in August last year – but he was sans doner kebab and appeared to still have his shoes on, so we think he did it wrong.
He’s also known, in Labour circles, for his stand-up comedy skills. Recently admitting to The Sunday Times that he was "told to be serious”, his Twitter is fairly low – on a scale of one to James Blunt – on the lolz. But he’s been a lightning rod. Almost immediately after becoming mayor, William Shatner tweeted his congratulations and quoted one of his most famous Star Trek lines: “Khaaaaaaaaaaan!” Khan responded by following Shatner, prompting the original Captain Kirk to tweet: “Go to red alert! Khan followed!”
Then there was the Bus Driver Moment, with both Baroness Sayeeda Warsi and Business Secretary Sajid Javid tweeting Sadiq to point out that they, too, are the offspring of Pakistani bus drivers. This prompted writer Tim Montgomerie to quip "Bus drivers are the new Etonians".
This past year, Khan has used his Twitter to respond to security threats, arrests and attacks in London, and has made boosting the emergency services a high priority. He’s so hot on Twitter, in fact, that many criticised him for not responding sooner to March's Westminster attack. Yet wouldn’t we all prefer a mayor who’s quick to act as opposed to quick to tweet?
For, arguably, his best Twitter response was not on Twitter at all. Following that devastating attack on London, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted Sadiq, criticising his comment in an Independent article last year that the threat of terror attacks was part of living in a big city. Sadiq’s response, live on CNN? "I'm not going to respond to a tweet from Donald Trump Jr., I've been doing more important things over the past 24 hours."
Long may that continue. Happy one-year anniversary Sadiq. Keep on hashtagging.