Sunday, 8 May 2016

Zac Goldsmiths 2016 London Mayoral Campaign

BFTF has been very disturbed by the way divisive "dog whistle" messages were used against Sadiq Khan by Zac Goldsmiths Conservative campaign for the London Mayoral elections. This kid of gutter politics damages community cohesion, prevents debate about the real issues, and discourages minorities from entering the political sphere...

An important issue - Jobs
(Heathrow Airport)

The Mail on Sunday Article
Back in 2005, the BNP used an image from the 7/7 attacks in a by-election campaign. The Leader of the Conservatives in London, Bob Neill said it was "disgraceful and sick..as contemptible an election tactic as I have ever seen in my life".

In 2016, Conservative mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith wrote an article for The Mail on Sunday asking "...are we really going to hand the world's greatest city to a Labour Party the thinks terrorists are its friends..". The articlewas illustrated with that same 7/7 image.

Zac Goldsmith says he didn't choose the image, which leaves BFTF wondering how the article submission process went. Did the Goldsmith media team submit the article and basically say - to the MAIL ON SUNDAY !!! - "use whatever image you want, I'm sure it'll be fine"?

And what's with the third paragraph :

"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."
The implication is that Khan is also anti-semitic, which is ridiculous. Journalist Peter Osborne has written on Khans record thus :
"Khan is a mainstream Labour politician who has dedicated his career to advocating centrist views. He voted for same-sex marriage, thus estranging socially conservative elements in London’s Muslim communities. He loudly opposes a boycott of Israeli goods. He is a strong opponent of anti-Semitism. He has campaigned constantly against reactionary and so-called "extremist" forces within the Muslim communities."

An important issue - Community
(Surrey Street Market, Croydon)

Guilt by Brother-in-Law
The Sun ran a story "revealing" extremist links of Sadiq Khan.

The story was based on the fact that, from 1989 to 2011, Khan sister was married to a man, Makbool Javaid, who spoke at an anti-western rally in London in 2007. Khan had not had any contact with Javaid for over a decade. Javaid is now an employment laywer.

Here's the key part of the article:
"In 2007 Mr Khan admitted that he was related to four other men through evil Javaid who were members of Hizb ut-Tarir"
Read that again, it doesn't say that Khan knew the four men directly, or had any dealing with them - it was enough for this smear that he was related to them via his brother-in-law. Pure guilt by association, a textbook example of the genre in fact.

Sad that conservative MP Andrew Bridgen was happy to supply a quote that "Yet again, Khan is showing terrible judgement on who he associates with. He’s clearly experimented with the wrong company."

A very different view of the story can be read in this politics.co.uk interview with Javaid in which Javaid points out that the footage of the rally has been on the Internet for several years and that both he and Khan knew it would become a story at some point. Javaid claims that Khan was so keen to put distance between them that he didn't attend the weddings of his [Khan's] nieces.

Owen Jones comments that:
"[Goldsmith] exploited and incited prejudice and hate. He undermined community cohesion. He indicated to young Muslims that there was no point engaging in the democratic process, because even the most progressive Muslim would be treated as aiding and abetting extremists...If Goldsmith does not suffer these consequences, politicians may wage these campaigns of fear over and over again."
On the other hand, George Osborne has defended the campaign, saying:
" Politics is a robust thing in a democracy and in elections there's a lot of rough and tumble...You are asked who are you, who do you associate with, what are your ideas. But if you can answer those questions, and clearly Sadiq Khan did answer those questions to the satisfaction of London voters, you get yourself elected."

An important issue - Housing
(Ampthill Square, Camden)

The Anti-IS IS Imam
David Cameron said, in the House of Commons, that "Suliman Gani - the honourable member for Tooting has appeared on a platform with him 9 times. This man supports IS."

According to a Daily Mirror article Goldsmith concurred "To share a platform nine times with Suliman Gani, one of the most repellent figures in this country, you don’t do it by accident."

Peter Osbourne, again in the Middle East Monitor, writes an open letter to Downing Street, which concludes:

"In the light of the prime minister’s intervention at PMQs I interviewed Mr Gani. He told me that he condemns IS and has campaigned against IS. He also showed me citations, press articles and other materials showing that he has worked alongside a local synagogue and with local churches. This is not the behavior of someone who supports IS.

To sum up, the prime minister has made a very serious charge against a British citizen – namely that that he supports IS, the most notorious terror group in the world. Neither he nor his spokespeople (ie you and your colleagues, Ms Allen) have been able to provide a scintilla of evidence to support this claim. Since he is unable to provide the evidence, I believe the prime minister must urgently withdraw his false and profoundly damaging assertion about Mr Gani.

Could I remind you of paragraph 1.2.c of the Ministerial Code. It states that: “It is of paramount importance that ministers give accurate and truthful information to Parliament, correcting any inadvertent error at the earliest opportunity. Ministers who knowingly mislead Parliament will be expected to offer their resignation.” The prime minister will be familiar with the contents of the Ministerial Code, since he wrote a foreword to it..."

...It would be utterly discreditable – indeed damnable - if the prime minister’s slur against Mr Gani were to remain on the record. He must either substantiate it, which I am certain he cannot do - or withdraw it, with a full apology."

An important issue - Air Quality
(Low Emission Zone)

The brains behind the campaign
The media team behind the Goldsmith campaign is described in this article by Simon Hatterstone, in which he comment on how a meeting with Goldsmith finds the candidate accompanied by a media advisor who works for the company co-founded by campaign strategist Lynton Crosby. Another co-founder, Mark Fullbrook was in charge of the Goldsmith campaign but, according to Hatterstone, "..you don’t need Crosby at the helm for a campaign to bear all his hallmarks..."

Crosby is famed for use of the "wedge strategy" which aims to select and campaign on an issue that will cause dissent in the opposition party - focussing on simple messages that are sent out repeatedly.

Crosby's signature move is the “the dead cat”, which has been described by Boris Johnson thus :

"There is one thing that is absolutely certain about throwing a dead cat on the dining room table – and I don’t mean that people will be outraged, alarmed, disgusted. That is true, but irrelevant. The key point...is that everyone will shout, ‘Jeez, mate, there’s a dead cat on the table!’ In other words, they will be talking about the dead cat – the thing you want them to talk about – and they will not be talking about the issue that has been causing you so much grief.”

What the campaign should have been about - Education
(Blizard Building, London School of Dentisty and Medicine, Tower Hamlets)

Completely unrelatedly
Simultaneous to the London Mayoral campaign there were council elections around the country. In the run up to these allegations of "anti-semitism" were levelled at some Labour councillors, evidenced with a Facebook image they had forwarded several years ago. The image suggested that Israel should be relocated to the US. Norman Finkelstein comments on these accusations here very comprehensively.

Actions
Sent email to local (Labour) MP asking for David Cameron to back up or retract his remarks regarding Mr Gani and that BFTF was shocked by the tactics used by the Conservative team, and for assurance that Labour would never do anything similar. Also pointing out that this will discourage Muslim from entering the public sphere.

Sent email to local Conservative party asking for David Cameron to back up or retract his remarks regarding Mr Gani and that BFTF was shocked by the tactics used by the Conservative team, and for assurance that this would never happen again. Also pointing out that this will discourage Muslim from entering the public sphere.

Sent emails to some local Imams pointing out that this week it was Mr Gani, but next week it could be them who is smeared and thrown to the wolves.

Image Sources
Russell Square, Heathrow, Low Emission Zone, Surrey Street Market, Blizard Building, Ampthill Square

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