Mohammed Amin, Chairman of the Conservative Muslim Forum, Zac Goldsmith’s campaign tactic was clearly dividing Londoners along religious and ethnic lines. “He was trying to maximise his vote amongst non-Muslim voters by attempting to frighten them about Khan, the alleged Muslim extremist”
“During the campaign for London Mayor, the media approached me many times regarding Zac Goldsmith’s comments about Sadiq Khan. I emulated a Trappist monk, but now that the election is over, I can remain silent no longer,” Amin, a well respected British Asian, wrote in Conservative Home.”
“As a British Muslim of Pakistani ethnic origin, I was quite pleased to see Sadiq Khan win the Labour nomination for Mayoral candidate. I have also met him on many occasions, and we are both patrons of the charitable research project Curriculum for Cohesion. However, as a Conservative Party member for about 33 years, I had absolutely no doubt about wanting to get a Conservative elected as Mayor of London. In the Conservative Mayoral primary, I voted for Syed Kamall, but was happy to support any candidate chosen by the Party’s members in London.
The Tory Muslim forum chairman used his vast experience in the party to compare the Zac campaign with traditional Tory policies.
“When 2016 started, I went canvassing for Zac in January on a cold, wet morning near Gants Hill Underground, and expected to do much more of it. (I decided in 2015 that I prefer walking the pavement to telephone canvassing as it is much better exercise.) Then something changed.
“With growing intensity, Zac began to paint Khan as a closet extremist. The words were always carefully chosen (sensible when dealing with a lawyer) and emphasised Khan’s alleged lack of judgment regarding who he had shared platforms with in the past. However, the underlying message was clear to me and to everyone else who heard it. We were meant to understand that Khan kept bad company with extremist Muslims and could not be trusted with the safety of London. On top of that, leaflets were targeted specifically at London Hindus and Sikhs, superficially about Khan’s tax policies, but clearly seeking to divide Londoners along religious and ethnic lines.
It was not just me reading Zac’s messages this way. Every Muslim member of the Conservative Party who has discussed the campaign with me has understood the messages in this way, as have many, probably most, non-Muslim commentators. I concluded that Zac had abandoned any attempt to appeal to Muslim voters, and was instead seeking to maximise his vote amongst non-Muslim voters by attempting to frighten them about “Khan, the alleged Muslim extremist.”
The veteran Tory politician said the Zac campaign abandoned the good will earned by Prime Minister David Cameron.
“Since David Cameron became our Party’s leader in 2005, helped by my vote in the leadership election, he has worked very hard to detoxify our brand, from hugging a hoody to living for two days with a Muslim family to bringing in equal civil marriage. It has worked. From being regarded by many Muslims as nothing more than the party of Enoch Powell, we won the votes of 15 per cent of British Muslims in 2010, rising to 25 per cent in 2015, with the trajectory being clearly upwards.
“Much of this has been imperilled by the Zac campaign and we have many elections to fight in the future more important than the London Mayoral election of 2016. If we want to avoid the likely fate of the US Republican Party, we have to appeal to Britons of all ethnicities and of all religions and none.”