After his rant in the Mail On Sunday was roundly condemned for its dog-whistle bigotry, there were calls for the Tories’ candidate for Mayor of London Zac Goldsmith to be suspended from the party, in line with the demands being made of Labour over allegations of anti-Semitism. But the Tory Party is so desperate to prevent Sadiq Khan becoming the new Mayor that it is keeping schtum for now.
The week after the July 7 bombings saw a council by-election in Barking, east London. As the Guardian reported the day before polling, the contest “in which the BNP hopes to gain a seat, shows an aerial photograph of the number 30 bus devastated by the explosion that killed at least 13 people. The headline is: ‘Maybe now it's time to start listening to the BNP’”. That party’s then leader Nick Griffin defended the leaflet. But no-one else did.
Indeed, the Guardian cited “Jeff Porter, a councillor for Barking and Dagenham council and a London Underground train driver … who was driving a tube to Edgware [Road] station when a bomb exploded on a train just 10 feet away going in the other direction”, who told “I do not think there are words to describe how disgusting this is. It is outrageous. At a time where all communities and faiths have been killed and injured; to try and exploit that. There are no words”. He was not alone in his condemnation.
As the BBC made clear, “Home Secretary Charles Clarke said the BNP ‘have tried to cynically exploit the current tragic events in London to further their spread of hatred’”. Val Rush, Labour’s election agent in that Barking and Dagenham by-election, added “All the residents we have spoken to are absolutely horrified that the BNP are using pictures of such a tragedy on their leaflet in a local by-election campaign”.
It got worse: the Sun also reported on the furore, telling “Leader of the Conservatives in London, Bob Neill, said the leaflet was ‘disgraceful and sick ... as contemptible an election tactic as I have ever seen in my life’”. That would be the then leader in London of the same party whose election candidate had just exploited the very same tragedy for the purposes of demonising the opposition - just as the BNP did in 2005.
So where is the Tory condemnation of Goldsmith’s article? Nah, they’re all too busy shouting “Look over there at Labour anti-Semitism”. What they are really saying is that, as the BNP is beyond the pale, they can be denounced for using a photo of the bombed out bus, but as the Tories are a mainstream party, and hold a majority in the Commons, they should be allowed to get away with using the same tactics.
Zac Goldsmith’s campaign is so disgraceful that he’s using the BNP tactics in order to try and get himself elected. That is how low he and his party have sunk.