London mayor Sadiq Khan has suggested the Conservatives want “a re-run of the 2016 mayoral contest”, in response to comments about his relationship with the capital’s Jewish community.
Tory mayoral candidate Susan Hall was criticised last week after she claimed during the Conservative Party conference that Mr Khan “frightened” Jews in London.
Asked about her comments during an event on the fringe of the Labour Party Conference, Mr Khan said: “Particularly in the context of the last 24 hours, I think the idea of weaponising Jewish people is wrong and my fear is we may be seeing from the Conservatives a re-run of the 2016 mayoral contest.
“Let me be quite clear, there are Jewish people in London, Londoners, who have genuine concerns and anxieties and aspirations and we should be addressing them.
That contest, which resulted in Mr Khan being elected mayor for the first time, saw Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith criticised for accusing his Muslim rival of associating with extremists.
A 2021 inquiry into anti-Muslim sentiment in the Conservative Party reported that Lord Goldsmith “accepts poor judgment in the way his campaign was conducted but forcefully denies harbouring anti-Muslim sentiments or using such sentiments for political advantage”.
Conservative business minister Nusrat Ghani was one of those who condemned Ms Hall’s comments, and explicitly mentioned Lord Goldsmith.
She said: “The language of fear and demeaning our political opponents is not a Conservative value that I recognise and we shouldn’t stoop to it.”
She added: “Have we not learned anything from Zac Goldsmith’s similar attempts in his mayoral campaign which ended in abject failure?”
Ms Hall’s comments also drew criticism from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which said there was “no fear present at all” in the community.
Ms Hall defended her remarks on GB News, saying the policing in London means that “many Jewish people do not feel safe”.