David Cameron today laughed off suggestions he should apologise for the Tories’ “disgraceful” and “racist” London Mayoral campaign.
In this afternoon’s Prime Minister’s Questions, Lib Dem leader Tim Farron sought to rise above party politics by questioning the tactics used against Labour’s Sadiq Khan in the race for the capital’s mayoralty.
Farron claimed Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith’s unsuccessful campaign “deliberately divided communities” in London.
Cameron, who had twice congratulated Khan on his win earlier in the session, did not take the opportunity to criticise Goldsmith’s tactics, and instead replied with a joke.
“It’s a great way to end the session: getting a lesson in clean campaigning from the Liberal Democrats,” replied the Prime Minister, to much laughter and applause from his Tory colleagues.
While Cameron is seemingly refusing to criticise Goldsmith’s election tactics – which included sending leaflets to different ethnic groups in London claiming their jewellery was at risk from a Khan mayoralty – other Tories have not held back.
One bone of contention is around Goldsmith’s attempt to paint Khan as giving cover to Islamic extremists, and last night party grandee Ken Clarke claimed that tactic actually drove voters to the Labour man.
“I wouldn’t dream of suggesting he was anything other than a perfect example of someone who is anti-racist,” Clarke said of Khan.
“The argument he was an extremist was ludicrous, utterly ludicrous. I suspect it gave him a bigger majority.”
In his victory in the early hours of Friday morning, Khan addressed Goldsmith’s campaign, although he did not mention his rival by name.
With Goldsmith looking on, Khan said: “This election was not without controversy and I am so proud that London has today chosen hope over fear and unity over division.
“I hope that we will never be offered such a stark choice again. Fear does not make us safer, it only makes us weaker, and the politics of fear is simply not welcome in our city.”