Britain: Gains for Corbyn's Labour; Muslim candidate defies hate campaign to win London mayor

Jeremy Corbyn with Labour's victorious candidate for London mayor, Sadiq Khan.

Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party defied expectations and Labour's Sadiq Khan has ended Conservative Party rule in London in May 5 local elections across Britain.

In what some labeled the most racist British election campaign in years, Khan won the London mayoralty to become the city's first Muslim mayor. The victory capped off a series of results where Labour's socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn, under fire from the mediaand right-wing of his own party, defied expectations that his party would suffer serious losses due to his left-wing views.

John McDonnell, Labour's shadow chancellor and a close Corbyn ally, said the results were a “success”. McDonnell said: "Pundits were predicting we'd be losing hundreds of seats and we haven't, in fact we have gained many." He told the BBC: "If you compare from when Jeremy took over to now, we are on a clear path of improvement."

In London, Khan, the son of an immigrant bus driver, was up against Conservative Zac Goldsmith, the elite-educated son of a billionaire financier. Khan ran with a message promoting a more equal London and contrasting his background with that of Goldsmith.

Goldsmith was slammed for an newspaper article linking his Labour rival to the terrorist bombings that killed dozens in London in 2005. Goldsmiths said Khan has shared platforms with radical Muslim speakers and given "oxygen" to extremists — charges Khan has denied.

Even members of Goldsmith's own party hit out at him for running an "outrageous" anti-Muslim campaign. The Conservative leader in London Andrew Boff said Goldsmith had "done real damage" to relations with London's Muslim communities.

However, left-wing commentator Owen Jones said Goldsmiths "anti-Muslim campaign was orchestrated by the Tory (Conservative party) leadership," and that the party's leadership as a whole should take responsibility.

The ruling Conservatives failed to make any big gains in England and Wales, but made gains in Scotland, where they leapfrogged Labour as the second-biggest party after the Scottish National Party.

Local elections have been seen as a test for Corbyn, Labour's most left-wing leader in many years, who was elected leader in September. Corbyn has faced huge opposition from more Blairite sections of his party and a hostile press since being elected on a wave of enthusiasm, particularly among younger voters, for change and an end to "establishment politics".

His left-leaning stance has jarred with several lawmakers in parliament, some of whom have been looking for ways to topple Corbyn despite his strong backing from the trade unions, a major funder to the Labour Party.

The local elections are the biggest in Britain outside of a general election. Britain will again head to the polls on June 23 for the long-awaited European Union Brexit referendum, where they will decide whether or not to remain in the EU.

[Reposted from teleSUR English.]