David Cameron dodges PMQs question on Zac Goldsmith's 'racist' campaign for London Mayor

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron challenged Mr Cameron to apologise 'for deliberately dividing communities to win cheap votes'

Adam Withnall
Wednesday 11 May 2016 13:08
David Cameron refuses to answer Tim Farron's question on London mayoral campaign

David Cameron has refused to apologise for the campaigning tactics of the Conservative candidate for the London mayoral elections Zac Goldsmith.

During the weekly question and answer session in the Commons, the Prime Minister congratulated Labour’s Sadiq Khan on his victory.

But when he was challenged on Mr Goldsmith’s “racist” campaign against Mr Khan by the Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, Mr Cameron appeared to dodge the question.

Mr Farron said: “I heard the Prime Minister on two occasions this afternoon congratulate the new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and I would like to repeat that myself.

“He did not however apologise for the disgraceful, racist campaign that the Conservatives decided to run in that campaign.

“Will he take the opportunity to apologise for deliberately dividing communities to win cheap votes?”

The question came at the end of a Prime Minister’s Questions already overrunning by some 20 minutes, and Mr Cameron simply stood up to say: “It’s a great way to end the session with a lesson in clean campaigning from the Liberal Democrats.”

Writing in this newspaper, a former volunteer on Mr Goldsmith’s campaign said he raised concerns about the use of racial profiling – but was told “all publicity is good publicity” by more senior members of the election team.

David Siesage said he discovered on the inside how the Tory campaign “focussed on fear” over Mr Khan’s faith as a Muslim, claiming he was linked in some way to extremists.

“Fear only works if there is something to be afraid of,” he said. “London – the most multi-cultural, international city in the country – is quite rightly not afraid of Muslims.”

It comes after Mr Khan hit out publically against the presumptive Republican US presidential candidate Donald Trump, who had suggested the new London Mayor could be an “exemption” to his proposed ban on all Muslims entering the States.

“Donald Trump's ignorant view of Islam could make both of our countries less safe - it risks alienating mainstream Muslims around the world and plays into the hands of extremists," he said.

“This isn't just about me - it's about my friends, my family and everyone who comes from a background similar to mine, anywhere in the world,” he said.

“Donald Trump and those around him think that Western liberal values are incompatible with mainstream Islam - London has proved him wrong.”

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