Tory favourite in mayor race, Zac Goldsmith, sets out stall


One of the leading candidates to succeed Boris Johnson as the next mayor of London has said the capital's Jewish community provides the best possible example of integration.

Zac Goldsmith said he would want to send "overt and very clear" support to reassure London's Jews should he be elected to City Hall.

The Richmond Park and North Kingston MP is the odds on favourite to win the Conservative Party selection and run in next May's election.

Mr Goldsmith said: "I don't think there's a community that better illustrates the value of integration than the Jewish community. It's hard to imagine this city without its Jewish community. It'd be a poorer place on every conceivable level. That's something which can be shouted from the rooftops."

Mr Goldsmith, whose late father Sir James Goldsmith and grandfather were Jewish, said it was essential for police to continue working closely with the Community Security Trust to oversee increased monitoring of antisemitism.

But he also called for a "case-by-case" approach to dealing with threats to the Jewish community.

Referring to fascist plans to demonstrate in Golders Green, north-west London, earlier this year, he said the group behind the proposed protest had been "a pretty shabby bunch" wanting to make a name for themselves. "The reaction to that threat, there was a moment where it risked giving them exactly what they wanted, but in the end a balance was struck," he said.

The MP also acknowledged concerns about the proliferation of antisemitic abuse online. "Social media has provided platforms for lots of people to vent appalling views. I've seen that myself on the wrong end of pretty grim tweets almost daily.

"There's a real problem there that needs to be addressed but, at the same time, I worry about giving oxygen to…marginal, unimpressive people who have not managed to command large followings."

Mr Goldsmith, who said he maintained a "very good relationship" with synagogues in his constituency, also pledged to build on the strong business links with Israel that have been nurtured by Mr Johnson. He added that, while he was a friend of Israel, he worried about the country's future and would be critical of its government if he felt being so would help the push to achieve "peace and a two-state solution that can last".

Running against Mr Goldsmith for the Tory selection is London Assembly member Andrew Boff, MEP Syed Kamall, and current deputy mayor for crime and policing, Stephen Greenhalgh.

The winner will be announced at the end of the month.

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