London mayoral election 2016: Sadiq Khan campaign hits back at claims from Zac Goldsmith that Tooting MP has "divisive and radical politics'

 
Lauren Fedor
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A member of Sadiq Khan's campaign team said Goldsmith was running a smear campaign (Source: Getty)

The race to replace Boris Johnson as mayor of London heated up today as Labour hopeful Sadiq Khan hit back at criticisms from his Conservative rival, Zac Goldsmith.

A member of Khan’s team accused Goldsmith of a “coded racist attack” after the MP for Richmond Park circulated a leaflet accusing Khan of “divisive and radical politics”. The paper also called Khan, the MP for Tooting, a “machine politician” who was chosen by and financially backed by the unions. The leaflet said that Khan flip flops on “big issues” such as building a third runway at Heathrow Airport.

Khan initially backed Heathrow expansion, but switched his allegiances to Gatwick earlier this year. Goldsmith, meanwhile, has consistently opposed expanding the west London airport, vowing to step down as a local MP and trigger a by-election if the government backs a third runway.

A Khan campaign source, however, accused Goldsmith of running a smear campaign: “The Crosby Goldsmith smear machine is in full swing already – sadly it looks like we can expect yet another divisive and dog-whistling campaign from the Tories.

“We hoped Goldsmith meant it when he said that he wanted a clean campaign – but sadly it appears he’s reverted to type.”

Goldsmith’s campaign director Mark Fullbrook co-founded CTF, a consultancy firm, with Lynton Crosby, the Australian political strategist behind the Conservatives’ General Election success. It is understood that Crosby is not working on Goldsmith’s campaign.

A spokesperson for Goldsmith told City A.M. that the leaflet was “about holding Sadiq Khan and his constant flip flopping to account”.

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