Andrew Boff, a Conservative member of the London Assembly used an interview on Newsnight last night to launch a very strong attack on Zac Goldsmith’s campaign. Although he thought the campaign was “mostly good” Boff added that he was “really troubled” that Muslims would be alienated from the Conservatives as a result.
“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 was dog whistle politics because you can’t hear a dog whistle. Everybody 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.”
Boff went to say that efforts by Conservatives, in areas such as Newham, to “actively engage with the Muslim community” were undermined by the Goldsmith campaign and was concerned “it has done lasting damage” and that Goldsmith was “wrong to accept the advice” he was given.
“At lot of us on the ground are going to have to spend a lot of time re-establishing those links. I don’t want us to do this in London again…
“I’ve been loyal to Zac all they way through. I think he’s an excellent candidate. What really hurts me is that I don’t think this sounds like authentic Zac Goldsmith….
“There was so many other things that we could attack on Sadiq Khan…
“We are very proud of our diversity in London and as he Conservative Party we have embraced that. I’m afraid we have taken a couple of steps back in this campaign.”
Boff is a senior figure in the London Conservatives and has himself sought to be selected as the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London a number of times – including last year.