Peter Oborne writes: I live in Chiswick in west London, just across the Thames from Zac Goldsmith’s Richmond constituency. I heard reassuring reports that he was an excellent constituency MP. For this reason, like many other Tories, I welcomed his emergence as Tory candidate for mayor of London and planned to vote for him.
Wild horses could not make me do so now. Goldsmith’s campaign for mayor has become the most repulsive I have ever seen as a political reporter.
Only two other campaigns bear comparison, both before my time. One was the infamous Bermondsey by-election of 1983 when the Labour candidate Peter Tatchell was targeted on account of his homosexuality. “Which Queen will you vote for?” asked an anonymous leaflet sent round the constituency in the final week of the campaign.
The other was the Smethwick campaign in the 1964 General Election. Peter Griffiths stood as the Conservative candidate against the shadow foreign secretary Patrick Gordon-Walker. Griffiths used the campaign to make a statement about immigration. “If you want a nigger for a neighbour, vote Labour” was the Tory slogan. [Continue reading…]