Eight of Zac Goldsmith’s strangest attacks on Sadiq Khan

The negativity of the Conservative mayoral campaign is both unusual and sinister

Image: Uma Kumaran

In an interview with Buzfeed this morning, Zac Goldsmith let fly with another of his fervent anti-Khan rants, which have become a staple of the mayoral race.

“We don’t know who he [Khan] is. His views have been so manipulated and cynically shifted on so many big issues affecting London depending on who he’s talking to, that it is quite hard to pin down who he is.”

While few politicians actually like their opponents, Goldsmith’s resentment of Khan seems almost obsessive.

Some suggest it’s to do with Khan’s race, a not-so-subtle attempt to sow fear about the prospect of a Muslim mayor. Others argue that Goldsmith simply has no strong beliefs of his own, and that negative campaigning is the only option available to him.

Whatever the reason, these eight examples showcase the unsettling ferocity of Goldsmith’s negative campaign.

1. In an interview with The Guardian Goldsmith insisted that ‘This is not a normal campaign for me . . . I have never run a campaign that was involved any kind of attacking in my life, but it is necessary in this campaign because I am up against somebody who poses a real danger to London. I’m absolutely convinced of it.’

2. At a campaign event in Woolwich last week he said of Khan ‘this is a man with no principles and who will trample on anyone and anything to advance his career.’

3. On one of their election leaflets, BackZac described Khan as ‘radical and divisive’.

4. When the Khan campaign criticised Goldsmith for his racially coded use of the term radical, he fired back: ‘I think he [Khan] is playing with fire. I don’t think there is anything more divisive than playing the race card when clearly, unambiguously, it does not apply.’

5. Speaking to Politics Home, Goldsmith said that Khan’s election ‘will be a disaster. We’ll have four years of bickering, blame, inaction; London will have a figurehead who is just, in my view, not fit for that office and I think he will be unable, because he’s unwilling, to get a good deal from government. And I think that’s a genuine threat, so my motivation has been amplified by the decision taken by the Labour party.’

6. In leaflets targeted at Tamils and Indians, Goldsmith implied that Khan couldn’t be trusted with the ‘family jewelry’ because of Labour’s support for a wealth tax.

7. The Tamil-targetted leaflet also highlighted that ‘as a government minister he did not use his position to speak about Sri Lanka or the concerns of the Tamil community’ (Khan, for the record, didn’t serve in the foreign office so such comments would have been outside his brief).

8. Goldsmith has exhaustively described Khan as ‘Corbyn’s man’, despite the fact that their politics do not align. Indeed, Khan was categorised as ‘hostile’ in the infamous Labour list.

Amid all this, Goldsmith insists he is simply being a dutiful campaigner:

I’m required to not only talk about what I’d do for London, but to make the choice very clear. So if that’s a negative campaign then so be it. I have to do what I have to do; I have a responsibility to get this right.”

Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin is editor of Left Foot Forward. Find her on Twitter.

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5 Responses to “Eight of Zac Goldsmith’s strangest attacks on Sadiq Khan”

  1. busybeebuzz

    As much as I would prefer a Labour mayor for London, I have as much respect for Khan as I have for Goldsmith. Once Sadiq Khan said that if Labour win he wouldn’t reverse the cuts to legal aid, he had lost all interest for me and for many others in the Justice Alliance. Have a read of this letter from his former colleague who is a human rights solicitor:

    Dear Sadiq Khan. When you left Christian Khan to become an MP, you said you could bring about more change as a politician than a lawyer. What happened?
    Sadiq, you and I have a shared history at the well- known legal aid firm Christian Khan, renamed when you became an equity partner, from the earlier Christian Fisher, where you did your training and got your first cases. When you left in 2004 to enter parliament, you said you felt you could have more of a role in effecting change as a politician than as a lawyer and this was a position I respected.

  2. Ross Armour

    There is only one man for the job of London Mayor and that is Sadiq Khan. Goldsmith’s claim he doesn’t know who he is and London voters don’t know what they’re getting with Khan is plain bizarre. The Labour candidate has been as clear as day on policies such as his fare freeze and Gatwick expansion. He also speaks in a human language. I expect a Labour victory

  3. Jimmy Glesga

    Lawyers have a financial interest in legal aid! Or is it about the interest of the client! Aye Right. Or the victims. Aye! Naw mibbies aye.

  4. Nick

    neither of these candidates are the right people for London. If either of them tried to get a job in London in a corporate environment they’d be sent packing

    if that’s the best London can do then if things don’t go as expected it’s the public’s fault simple as that

  5. Chris

    Nick, you do know that Sadiq Khan was previously a partner in a successful law firm? I think that counts as a corporate environment.

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