Top Tory on the GLA attacks 'outrageous' Zac Goldsmith campaign strategy

Posted On: 
5th May 2016

The most senior Conservative in the Greater London Authority has launched an excoriating attack on Zac Goldsmith’s Mayoral campaign. 

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Andrew Boff said the strategy of criticising Labour candidate Sadiq Khan for links to conservative Muslims had “done real damage” to the Tories’ standing.

Mr Boff is the leader of the Conservatives in the GLA and was defeated by Mr Goldsmith in the race to be the party’s nominee for the Mayoralty.

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The Conservative tactics against Mr Khan have been a subject of controversy for weeks, with many arguing that accusing him of being “radical” and having links to extremists were an attempt to draw attention to his Muslim faith.

Mr Boff’s criticism, in an interview with Newsnight, is the most outspoken expression of discomfort by a Conservative about the nature of the campaign.

He said: “I think it was mostly good but I was really troubled by one particular aspect of it and that’s when he started to equate people of conservative religious views with sympathising with terrorism. That sent a message out to many of the communities in London that’s very difficult to justify...

“I don’t think it’s dog-whistle because you can’t hear a dog-whistle; everyone could hear this. It was effectively saying that people of conservative religious views are not to be trusted and you shouldn’t share a platform with them. That’s outrageous... Now those bridges that have been built, a few of them have been blown up by this campaign.”

Mr Boff added that he was “not alone” in his opinions, and suggested that Mr Goldsmith had been leant on by his campaign team to take this attack.

“What really hurts me is that I don’t think this sounds like authentic Zac Goldsmith. This kind of politics I didn’t think was Zac. It hasn’t got his stamp on it.”

Speaking to The House magazine last month, Mr Goldsmith said if his campaign against Mr Khan was negative, "so be it".