London will get a new Mayor after next Thursday’s poll, whoever wins: the increasingly occasional presence of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson will finally end its disastrous City Hall tenure, to be replaced by either his pal Zac Goldsmith, or Labour challenger Sadiq Khan. Khan has a big lead in the polls. The Goldsmith campaign, mired in dog-whistling and borderline Islamophobia, is flailing.a full page article in the Mail On Sunday, where he can tell readers of his wonderful vision for the capital. We can marvel at his ideas for making London cleaner and greener, getting more commuters on to cycles and out of their cars, and about housing, housing, and yet more housing. But what those readers get is yet more smearing of Khan and even claims of terror links.
The article is illustrated with a photo of the wrecked bus that was bombed as it traversed Tavistock Square on July 7, 2005. Classy, eh? It gets worse as the headline tells “On Thursday, are we really going to hand the world's greatest city to a Labour party that thinks terrorists are its friends?” Right. So we’re not getting Zac’s vision for London, then?
Not as such. Instead, the frighteners are lined up: “London stands on the brink of a catastrophe … London’s £600billion economy would fall into the hands of a man who backed Ken Livingstone over his suspension in 2006 for anti-Semitic remarks to a Jewish reporter … It would mean aggressive socialism entering Britain though the back door … the world’s premier financial centre will be handed to the most hard-Left, intolerant, anti-business Labour Party since the days of Michael Foot”.
Can it get worse? Unfortunately, yes it can: “The number one job of any mayor of London is to keep our city safe … Yet if Labour wins on Thursday, we will have handed control of the Met, and with it control over national counter-terrorism policy, to a party whose candidate and current leadership have, whether intentionally or not, repeatedly legitimised those with extremist views … [Khan] is running as the representative of the most divisive Labour party we’ve seen for a generation. He is running on the back of hard-Left votes he courted in order to win the Labour mayoral selection”.
And on it goes, the dredging of the Fox News playbook (“hard-Left”), dog-whistling (“legitimised those with extremist views”), and using Ken Livingstone to suggest anti-Semitism (we are not told that Khan was campaign manager for Labour’s first Jewish leader). Only at the end do we see anything about Goldsmith’s vision for the capital.
Did Zac Goldsmith actually write this drivel? I doubt it: the most likely source for this is whoever in CCHQ is the representative on Earth of Lynton Crosby and his dog-whistle brand of attack politics. But that really doesn’t matter. It’s got Goldsmith’s name on it, and he therefore has at least acquiesced in its production.
The Tories are touring the studios telling whoever will listen that Labour have a problem with racism. But the reality is that the Tories are the ones trying to frame the London Mayoral election as one of “keeping out the scary brown person”. All that Goldsmith’s article proves, apart from the Nasty Party still being nasty, is that the Tories get away with their racism because there is always someone ready to indulge it.