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Thursday, 18 February 2016

Sadiq Khan - Race Smears Busted

The election for Mayor of London, the culmination of the contest to succeed increasingly occasional incumbent Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, takes place on May 5. That is just eleven weeks away, and the Tory hopeful Zac Goldsmith is lagging in the polls. By sheer coincidence, you understand, his Labour opponent Sadiq Khan is now being subjected to a series of smears suggesting he has links to Islamic extremists.
Sadiq Khan

Moreover, the Tories are joining in, several of their MPs more than willing to give quotes suggesting that Khan is keeping some seriously dodgy company and should therefore not be trusted with the Mayoralty. Goldsmith, meanwhile, is silent. So what kind of smears are we talking about? The first appeared in the Evening Standard recently, it’s been churned over by the Sun, and, as Political Scrapbook has shown, it is complete bunk.

The Standard’s pitch was “The links of mayoral hopeful Sadiq Khan’s former brother-in-law to one of the UK’s most notorious extremist organisations are revealed today … Top London lawyer Makbool Javaid was married to the Labour Party candidate’s sister Farhat Khan until 2011”. Javaid had allegedly taken part in events with an extremist group 20 years ago, and been seen alongside hate preachers.

But it was complete bunk, and back in 1998 the Sunday Times debunked the whole charade. So why the Standard - which so fervently backed the Tories in 2008 and 2012, and has shown signs that it will back them again this time - has dug this up only reinforces suspicion that there is some co-ordination at work. Then the Mail pitched in.

Sadiq Khan, Labour candidate for London mayor, made a speech while the 'black flag of jihad' was flying and gave his support to groups linked to extremismit proclaimed. The Global Peace and Unity conference, the paper suggested, was not the kind of event that Khan should be gracing with his presence. But, as Adam Bienkov has pointed out in a piece for Politics Home, Bozza sent the conference a message of support.

The conference was also addressed by Tory Dominic Grieve, and former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg. Perhaps, as the same flag was present in the audience when they spoke, they too should be tarred as extremists. There has been more slanted coverage, with the Sun claiming “LABOUR'S candidate for Mayor of London and party boss Jeremy Corbyn attended a rally in 2006 with an extremist Muslim leader who threatened ‘fire throughout the world’”. No threat was made. And then back came the Standard.

After Khan gave an interview to Jewish News, London’s only evening paper did some highly selective churning over of the account and came out with the headlineSadiq Khan: I represented 'unsavoury individuals' when I was a human rights lawyer”. Thus the drip-drip of propaganda to suggest there is something dodgy about the Labour challenger.

The Goldsmith campaign could, and should, disown the smears and distance itself from them. It will not. The availability of Tory MPs ready to go on the record and denounce Sadiq Khan merely underscores that. Rather like John Major stayed silent as the press savaged Neil Kinnock in 1992, Zac Goldsmith will stay aloof, yet will benefit from the dirty tricks. The Tories are out of reasons why Londoners should not choose Khan. Smearing him as some kind of Islamic fanatic is all they have left.


Rivo said...

I have noticed Britain First are quite keen to trumpet Mr Khan's supposed links to "extremists" all over social media of late...

Andy McDonald said...

"Links to...", such a wonderfully weaselly phrase. Could mean anything from being bosom buddies to walking through the same door. Or living in the same town. Or, well, anything really.