by New Worker
ZAC GOLDSMITH, the Tory candidate in next week's London Mayoral contest, has turned his campaign against his Labour rival, Sadiq Khan, into an Islamophobic rant.
He never fails to mention that Khan is a Muslim and accuses him of repeatedly associating with Muslim extremists.
On 20th April David Cameron, speaking during Prime Minister's Questions, claimed that Khan had repeatedly shared a platform with preacher Sulaiman Ghani, a man who "supports ISIS", he said. "Anyone can make a mistake about who they appear on a platform with but if you do it time after time after time, it is right to question your judgement," he told the Commons.
The Prime Minister's comments sparked cries of "racist" from Labour MPs, with leader Jeremy Corbyn shouting: "That's disgraceful and you know it."
Cameron gave no evidence of Ghani being associated with ISIS but there is plenty of evidence of Ghani being associated with a number of Tory politicians.
These include Dan Watkins, the Tory candidate for Khan’s parliamentary seat of Tooting, to whom Ghani says he lent support and canvassers at the election. This alleged supporter of ISIS really did support the Tories against Khan.
Tory minister Jane Ellison has also shared a platform with Ghani where they both addressed a Conservative Muslim forum in London last year.
But Cameron's and Goldsmith’s attacks on Khan have become so blatantly Islamophobic and racist that they are driving away some of their own supporters.
Peter Oborne, the former chief political columnist at the Daily Telegraph, described Goldsmith’s attacks against Sadiq Khan as "the most repulsive I have ever seen as a political reporter".
Goldsmith has repeatedly described his Muslim rival as "radical" and defended comments by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon that he is a "Labour lackey who speaks alongside extremists".
Writing in the [Middle East Eye, Oborne says that Goldsmith seemed "decent and non-partisan" when he first entered politics a decade ago. He had planned to vote for him to replace Boris Johnson next month but "wild horses could not make me do so now".
He continues: "Goldsmith's attempt to stir up sectarian division by turning on a single community is horribly reminiscent of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in the US."
The "barrage of propaganda" from Goldsmith's camp "very worryingly” comes right from the top", adds the journalist, referring to David Cameron's comments in the Commons.
Despite being a life-long Conservative voter, Oborne says he will be "proudly voting for Khan" when Londoners head to the polls on 5th May. "I urge everyone, including Tories, to do the same," he says. "Consider this: if Goldsmith's campaign succeeds it tells every single British Muslim that there is no role for them anywhere in the British democratic system."
But Goldsmith has continually denied he has done anything wrong. Defending his use of the word "radical", he told the Guardian that such tactics were "necessary in this campaign because I am up against somebody who poses a real danger to London".
Sadiq Khan responded in a speech at London Metropolitan University, where he studied law, by echoing the sentiments of Doreen Lawrence, the mother of murdered teenager Stephen, who introduced him.
“There is,” Khan said, “a clear choice at the election on 5th May. A choice between the politics of division and fear that has defined the Tory campaign, or the politics of unity, hope and opportunity that has defined mine. The Tory view of politics is all about division and fear.”
Speaking to reporters after the speech, Khan said he believed the “desperate, negative” Tory tactics, honed by the Australian election guru Lynton Crosby, would not resonate in the city.
“I think this Donald Trump approach to politics, trying to divide communities, turn them against each other – I don’t think will work in London,” he said. “We don’t just tolerate differences, we respect them. My campaign has Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, those who aren’t a member of an organised faith, rich, poor, old, young, black, white, gay, lesbian.”