Dave Hill: Susan Hall won’t rush to condemn Tory extremists. She’s far too keen on them

Dave Hill: Susan Hall won’t rush to condemn Tory extremists. She’s far too keen on them

A few Conservatives have done the right thing. Lord Ahmed of Wimbledon has expressed his total disagreement with Tory MP Lee Anderson’s idiotic and inflammatory lie on the extreme right-wing television channel GB News that “Islamists have got control” of Sadiq Khan and that the Mayor has “given our capital city away” to them. Minister Nus Ghani has said it was “foolish and dangerous” for Anderson to spout his rubbish. Her fellow Tory peer and former London MP Gavin Barwell, who had close dealings with Khan’s first administration in his roles as housing minister and minister for London, rightly described Anderson’s gutter talk as “a despicable slur”. Paul Scully, a more recent minister for London, has condemned his “wrong-headed comments which inflame the situation”.

City Hall Tories too – well, some of them – have placed on record their displeasure with Anderson’s false claims. Neil Garratt, who leads the Conservative group, Nick Rogers, Tony Devenish and Emma Best have said they disagree with them, either through social media channels or in answer to an inquiry by me. In fairness to their colleague Keith Prince, it would have been awkward for him to disown the man who, until his recent resignation over the cruel Rwanda farce, had been Rishi Sunak’s appointee as the Tories’ national deputy chairman, as he’d been promoting a “gala dinner” with Anderson as his star guest scheduled for Saturday, the very evening Anderson had the Tory whip suspended.

But the most prominent member of the Tory group, the one who happens to be the party’s candidate for Mayor of London and therefore hoping to defeat the Labour incumbent at whom Anderson directed his bile, has been strikingly quiet about an issue that continues to dominate national media coverage today.

You might have thought Susan Hall would be loudly and clearly leading Tory denunciations of Anderson’s smearing of her very far from “Islamist” Muslim opponent in a city with 1.3 million Muslim residents against a backdrop of rising anti-Muslim hate crime. You might have thought it not only her urgent duty but also electorally astute to have made her disavowal of Anderson among the most prominent, for all her very plain dislike of Khan himself.

But no. On X/Twitter, where she has long made known her strident disapproval of everything from Kay Burley’s questioning of Tory politicians to Gemma Collins’s weight, she has so far gone nowhere near the subject. If she has publicly expressed any sort of view about it, the news hasn’t travelled far. The Evening Standard has reported an unnamed “Tory source” as saying “Susan doesn’t agree with what was said”. We can’t be sure from that even if the single sentence came from Hall’s campaign. And from Hall herself, not a word. The ‘Tory source” has provided the smallest possible emergency fig leaf in case anyone asks why she’s stayed so quiet.

Why such uncharacteristic reticence in the face of so boorish and incendiary a misrepresentation of the capital? Well, given her history of painful radio performances when discussing supposed pickpocketing incidents or the price of a bus fare, it isn’t hard to imagine that Hall is being kept well away from the media spotlight at this fraught juncture. And, of course, the risk to the Tories, not only in London but all over the country, of her making any sort of intervention in the row about extreme opinions being expressed and perpetuated by senior figures in her party, is that it would draw renewed attention to her own record in that regard.

Hall’s approval of an Enoch Powell-fancier citing his hero as an example to follow to “get London back”, her endorsement of Katie Hopkins calling London “Londonistan” and her egging-on of Donald Trump to “wipe the smile off” Khan’s face are well-documented examples of her own alignments with very right-wing views, a past she has shruggingly dismissed as unimportant.

Spend a little longer with her back-catalogue and find her, less than a year ago, praising Suella Braverman as “a good strong woman” and “an ideal Home Secretary”. It was an article by Braverman in the baleful Telegraph, in which she proclaimed that Islamists are in charge of Britain, to which Anderson was responding. Then there is her reaction in November 2022 to Anderson demanding that all “illegal” immigrants be thrown out the day they arrive. “Very many agree with him” asserted Hall, approvingly.

It is unfortunate for the Tory interest that its candidate for Mayor of London is one of the least credible Tories for putting a bit of distance between itself and Anderson’s slander of the capital city – not that the government has been making a very credible job of it anyway, first excusing the outburst of its embarrassing pet lout then spending the rest of the weekend making weasel-word attempts to downplay it, rather than unequivocally disowning him.

To give her her due, Hall did express concern for London’s Muslims not long ago, albeit briefly, at a Mayor’s Question Time meeting during exchanges about hate crime. But her reluctance to acknowledge that her political enthusiasms have been unacceptable make her part of what Tory peer Baroness Warsi has called “the rot” at the heart of her party. The reason Susan Hall doesn’t rush to condemn Tory extremists is that she’s rather keen on them.

Dave Hill is editor and publisher of OnLondon.co.uk. Support the site and its writers for £5 a month or £50 a year and get things for your money too. Details HERE. X: OnLondon and Dave Hill. Threads: DaveHillOnLondon.

Categories: Comment

1 Comment

  1. Philip Virgo says:

    You should not rush to defend Mayor Khan before looking at who he has have given funding to instead of spending it out mainstream policing and/or improving contact between mainstream community groups (including Muslim women’s groups as opposed to those run by misogynist old men) and law enforcement. It is one thing to bleat about violence against girls and women and historic slavery. It is something very different to attempt to give a voice to those trapped within introverted religious communities , clans and families – not all of them Islamic. There are said to be similar problem with other faiths and none.

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