Week 19: Villain – Zac Goldsmith

by Jackie_South on May 13, 2016

Tory_VillainThis week, mayoral loser Frank Zacharias Robin Goldsmith MP wins our ward for villainy

Politics of late gives us few reasons to be cheerful, so the victory of Sadiq Khan last week was a cause for great celebration. After eight years, my Labour-inclined home city finally has a Labour mayor again, and a serious politician in charge rather than the cowardly, lazy, philandering, occasionally casually racist, privileged fop we have had to endure since 2008.

But the icing on the cake was the downfall of another Eton-educated blond. Once upon a time, Zacharias was the face of the new Tory party, a Conservative who actually cared about the environment. The Conservatives thought that this cuddly Tory image was just what was needed to give their hold on City Hall a four-year extension.

Someone forgot to give that script though to Tory hired gun Lynton Crosby, the master of dog-whistle rightwing dirty politics. When it became clear that despite the looks Zac in fact had the charisma of a soggy lettuce, it appears that the advice received was to go grubby: tap into latent Islamophobia by tying Khan into muslim extremists. And so we had the Tories issue a leaflet describing Khan as “divisive and radical” and attempts to tell Hindus and Sikhs that Sadiq was after their gold: ” a wealth tax on family jewellery”. And then we had Goldsmith, Cameron and the rightwing press relentlessly pointing to examples of Sadiq sharing a platform with people that they claim were dodgy.

Of course, the fact that they too had shared platforms with the same people, such as Suliman Gani, did not go unnoticed. It appeared that the Tories were saying that it was fine for them themselves to share a platform with them, but if a muslim did it must mean that they were terrorist fellow travellers.

The whole point of dog whistle politics is, of course, that its subliminal message is heard only by the people that are susceptible to its message and not those who might be offended by it. Goldsmith though turned the dog-whistle into a megaphone – no-one could possibly miss the Islamophobic intent of the repeated slander.

Not only is that a disgrace, it is also really bad politics. No London mayor has ever won on first preferences. Goldsmith’s campaign might just have worked in a purely first-past-the-post under different circumstances. but his hate-filled campaign was always going to deter second preferences. Remember, the third-placed party in the election, the Greens, started off suggesting that Goldsmith might be the beneficiary of their second preferences. By election day, it was very clear that those votes would go to Khan. More people chose not to cast a second preference at all than give it to Goldsmith.

So, Goldsmith not only lost but also shredded his reputation as a “likeable Tory” (at least with those daft enough to think such a fabulous creature exists). From golden boy to political pariah: a fitting end for such a despicable campaign.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Killingworth May 14, 2016 at 6:56 am

Which campaign, he now claims, wasn’t his idea of how to do things at all.

He got a 15% swing in his favour in Richmond Park at the last GE. Will the Lib Dems eat him alive next time?

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Fionauk512 May 14, 2016 at 10:24 am

The fact that he was prepared to roll over and accept the campaign points to the party puppet he would have been. To top it all he actually failed to shake Khan’s hand when it was all over. He should have genuflected and been thankful that the hand was even extended, what a fortunate escape for Londoners.

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George_East May 14, 2016 at 11:20 am

Graceless in defeat too. Not a handshake, and a petulant speech which failed to acknowledge anything wrong with his campaign and bleated on about ‘building on the success of Boris Johnson’.

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