A leading British-Asian group has launched a social media campaign against London mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith, accusing the Tory of "racism". Members of the South Asia Solidarity Group have taken to Twitter to post images of themselves holding up a sign that reads '#No2RacistZac' and '#No2ToryHindutva'.
The campaign comes weeks after Goldsmith was criticised for targeting London's British-Indian community with "patronising" flyers. Many reacted angrily to the flyers on 15 March, in which the mayoral candidate attempted to appeal for votes by warning that Sadiq Khan's Labour Party supported a "wealth tax on family jewellery", which had been capitalised for emphasis.
Reacting to the flyers, a spokesperson for the South Asia Solidarity Group said: "In an almost pathetically transparent and inept piece of scaremongering, simply invented a devilish Labour 'jewellery tax', because apparently... all Indians and Sri Lankas have piles of gold jewellery stashed away which they are much more worried about than jobs, housing, transport or any of the issues which other Londoners are voting on in these elections."
The South Asia Solidarity Group also noted that the letters had been customised and addressed people by their first name, particularly in areas with relatively high Asian populations. They said that everyone with an "Indian sounding name" had assumed to be Indian, those with the last name Singh had been sent a "special Sikh letter", while those with Muslim names had been excluded from the list in an apparent suggestion that Indians cannot be Muslim.
The flyers also highlighted the fact that Jeremy Corbyn had once signed a petition to ban Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi from the UK, while Goldsmith had welcomed the Indian leader to the UK in November 2015 alongside David Cameron. However, the South Asia Solidarity Group criticised the Tory candidate for assuming that all Indians supported the Modi government.
A spokesperson for the group said: "In what the Tories obviously saw as their masterstroke, [they] invoked the Modi factor. If they had bothered to find out, Goldsmith and Cameron would have known that, in reality, a very large proportion of people of Indian heritage in the UK condemn Narendra Modi, his fascist policies and his silence and inaction and in the face of the killings of minority groups."
The #No2RacistZac campaign also condemned the fact that while Hindus had received letters from Goldsmith vowing to keep "our streets safe from terror attacks", Muslims received no such letter. The campaign attempts to dismiss Goldsmith as "racist" and "Islamophobic", while accusing him of attempting a "colonial-style divide and rule" method.
The South Asia Solidarity Group said: "While the campaign recycles all the existing racist and colonial tropes about South Asians, it also reinforces the vicious lies and myths circulated by the Hindu right in India, as well as here Britain. This is one of the most pernicious, if less visible, aspects of the Conservative mayoral campaign and must be exposed and confronted."