So many lowlights from the life of Zac Goldsmith – so hard to choose

Marina Hyde in The Guardian:

First, a big shout-out to that mayoral campaign against the eventual victor, Sadiq Khan, which misunderstood the city to a degree possible only in someone essentially insulated from it. Richmond doesn’t have a London postcode; Zac Goldsmith’s house may even have its own postcode.

It’s hard to pick a lowlight from those few weeks in spring. Peter Oborne classed the Tory strategy against Khan as sufficiently ghastly to warrant comparison with not just the openly homophobic effort against Peter Tatchell in Bermondsey in 1983 but the daddy of them all: the 1964 Smethwick campaign, in which the local Tory party warned voters: “If you want a n***** for a neighbour, vote Labour.” You do have to doff your hazmat suit to the leaflet Goldsmith sent to British Indians, in which he claimed Sadiq Khan was basically after their jewellery. As he put it, with sledgehammer emphasis: “His party SUPPORTS A WEALTH TAX on FAMILY JEWELLERY.” Mate, at least he’s into the idea of tax. You were a non-dom, and only gave your status up when someone found out about it during your campaign to be MP. When the London result came in, Goldsmith declined to shake Khan’s hand. Maybe he was worried Khan would infect him with “extremism”, or have his watch off him, or something.

In the immediate aftermath of that campaign, there was only one debate: was Goldsmith too wet to say no to a racist campaign imposed on him, or was he simply a racist? His sister appeared to hint toward the former, “sad that Zac’s campaign did not reflect who I know him to be – an eco-friendly, independent-minded politician with integrity”. But a few months later Goldsmith insisted it was all him, and offered a classic drive-by statement of regret. “Of course I regret the portrayal of the campaign,” he said, suggesting “portrayal” – aka the media – was entirely to blame. I guess you just can’t win against the famously leftwing British press, as those heroically doomed Tories so often find.

My emphasis.

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