Zac Goldsmith and the Tory politicians who 'gave cover' to extremists

Zac Goldsmith (L) called Suliman Gani (R) 'one of the most repellent figures in this country'
Zac Goldsmith (L) called Suliman Gani (R) 'one of the most repellent figures in this country'
Adam Bienkov By

Zac Goldsmith's attacks against Sadiq Khan for "giving cover" to extremists backfired yesterday after I revealed that Goldsmith had also supported one of the key figures the Tories had condemned Khan for associating with.

Despite telling an audience this week that he had "never heard" of Babar Ahmad until recently, this video I uncovered from 2012 shows Goldsmith also publicly backing Ahmad's campaign against extradition.

Today things got even worse after Suliman Gani, who was labeled "one of the most repellent figures in this country" by Goldsmith in yesterday's Evening Standard, posted a picture of himself posing with the Tory candidate.

A spokesperson for Goldsmith said today: "There are a million miles between Khan’s repeated errors in judgement and Zac getting approached for a photo by a stranger"

However, it appears that this was not just a random streetside encounter. In fact, I can reveal that Gani and Goldsmith both attended a "become a councilor" event with prospective Tooting Tory MP Dan Watkins last November. Yesterday Gani posted a picture of himself with Watkins from that session and both Goldsmith and Gani can be seen in other photos taken at the event.

Gani also posted several pictures of himself alongside other Conservative politicians, including one of Battersea MP Jane Ellison, who spoke alongside him at a campaign event to free Guantanamo detainee Shaker Aamer.

So does Goldsmith also think Ellison's decision to "share a platform" with Gani makes her unfit to hold public office?  For that matter, does he also think that Gani's meeting with Conservative MP for Twickenham, Tania Mathias, makes her a political pariah?

Does he also think that former cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell's reputation is similarly wrecked.

And more importantly does he also think that the time he himself "associated" with Gani means he doesn't have the right 'judgement' to be mayor either?

Of course, nobody in their right mind would say that Goldsmith, or any of the other Conservative politicians who have met or appeared alongside Gani, holds any responsibility, or should be tainted in any way, by the views Gani has expressed at other times. Yet that is exactly what the Goldsmith campaign are suggesting about their Labour rival.

In truth, all politicians have to deal with thousands of people who hold views and express opinions which are polar opposites to their own. The only thing that really matters are the politicians' own views and records and it is clear that both Zac and Sadiq are worlds apart from the likes of Gani.

As a prominent religious figure in his constituency, Khan obviously had dealings with Gani, but that does not mean that Khan is tainted by Gani's views. In fact a quick look through Gani's Twitter feed confirms he is no fan of the Labour candidate, having recently retweeted a tweet labeling Khan a "rancid traitor to his faith".

When I spoke to Goldsmith earlier this week, he told me he was not in any way suggesting that Khan personally has any "extreme" views. But if that's true, then why make it such a major issue in the election? If he's not trying to say that Khan shares the views of Gani, or others, then why does he repeatedly try to draw an association between them? 

I don't believe Goldsmith is a racist or an Islamophobe. But by constantly trying to associate Khan with certain other Muslims  - whose views Goldsmith knows Khan does not share - I believe his campaign are deliberately trying to appeal to people who do hold such ugly prejudices and fears about people from that religion.

And at a time when fears of a terrorist attack are running high in London, that's a dangerous and irresponsible way to run a campaign to become the city's mayor.


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