Tuesday 27 February 2024

Lee Anderson does Sadiq Khan a massive favour

 For me, the issue of Mayor Sadiq Khan is a very difficult subject. At the previous two Mayoral elections, he got my second preference vote. In 2016, this was a very easy decision. His Tory opponent, Zak Goldsmith ran a horrible campaign, which many felt had racist overtones. I've never voted Conservative in my life and Goldsmith reminded me why. By 2021, I'd got rather fed up with Khan. My main issues were that he seemed to have no vision for London, clearly had issues with outer London Boroughs ([passing some awful planning schemes in Barnet) and generally seemed to me to be a humourlous and overly spiky character. He was faced by Shaun Bailey,  who initially seemed to me to be an interesting challenger. Sadly Bailey's campaign soon started to fall apart at the seams, the low point when a tweet was posted with a picture of Khan labelled as the "mad mullah of Londonistan". Whatever I may think of Khan, it was a horribly racist trope and even Bailey has since admitted it was beyond the pale.

Since 2021, Khan has done everything possible to convince me that he is simply unfit to be Mayor. I believe that the ULEZ extension was unfair, ill thought out and discriminatory towards the less well off workin people of London. Sadly for London, they have chosen Susan Hall as their candidate who is even worse than Khan and struggles to put two sentences together without putting her foot in it. 

I attended a Lib Dem planning call and I suggested that the Lib Dems candidate should simply leaflet and poster the whole of London with "These two are useless, vote for me!" and they'd be onto a winner. Sadly, they don't listen to me. I genuinely believe that if there was a sensible alternative to either, they'd have a very good chance. I ama amazed that the Tories didn't find a proper A list candidate, as many people feel like I do about Khan. I suspect that the turnout will be lower than previously as people are disengaged from the process by the poor choice. 

The rules have been changed, so that there is no second preference vote.  This means that people like me are effectively disenfranchised. I would not vote for Khan or Hall as a first choice ever. At least the old system allowed me to express a point of view.

So that's how I feel about Khan and Hall. Yesterday, I got into work to hear an emerging Tory car crash, which I suspect may have put paid to any lingering hopes Susan Hall may have had of pulling off an upset. First of all, "30p" Lee Anderson, the former deputy chairman of the Tory party, had the whip removed for suggesting that Islamists had taken over London via Sadiq Khan. Much as I think Khan is useless, it was a ridiculous suggestion and clearly showed a not very overt racism. To make matters worse, the usually sensible former Minister for London Paul Scully piled in, claiming Tower Hamelts is a no go area when asked about Lee Andersons comments. For the record, I went a beer and a curry in Tower Hamlets recently. We had a pint at The Blind Beggar and a beer and a curry in Brick Lane. It may come as a surprise to 30p Lee and Mr Scully that no one declared Jihad against us. In fact we were made very welcome and fed royally ( as we always are). I used to work in Aldgate and know many of the Indian restaurants. Most of the staff are Bengali Muslims and all are hard working and pleasant. I simply do not recognise the words of Scully as having any basis in reality. As for Lee Anderson's claim. It is reprehensible. All sane and decent Tories have sought to distance themselves from it. Rishi Sunak admitted that Anderson was wrong, although in a mealy mouthed explanation, he said it wasn't 'Islamaphobia'. 

Susan Hall has been forced to stop campaigning and clarify her position. 

Whilst it is a good thing that the two of them can act like grown ups when needed, Lee Anderson has not done her campaign any favours. Having to say that your mortal opponent is actually a good egg is not really that helpful when you are trying to outs him.

The sad truth is that Lee Anderson has let the cat out of the bag about racism at the heart of the Tory party. With GLA and Mayoral elections coming up in London, a City which is as diverse as any on the planet, this will not play well with voters. It seems likely to me that Anderson will defect to the Reform Party. Whilst this will be a coup for Reform and help Labour immensely, my view is that ultimately it will damage both Reform and The Tories. It sends out the message that if you are too extreme for the Tories, then join Reform. Whilst Reform's agenda has the sympathy of a sizeable minority in the Tories, they are miles away from even winning a seat at a by election, let alone a general election. They will simply leach off votes that will add to the Tories woes. to my mind, the Tories are starting to resemble Labour in the early 1980's, when they elected unelectable ideologues as leaders for partisan reasons. 

The bottom line for me, though, is that this unholy mess does nothing for London. 

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