Susan Hall
The timing of Susan Hall's comments is particularly notable, as they come just a week before the Notting Hill carnival is scheduled to take place. Hollie Adams/Reuters

The London mayoral candidate from the Conservative Party is facing backlash for her remarks about the Notting Hill carnival, which she referred to as "dangerous", and her assertion that there exists a "problem with crime" within the black community.

David Lammy, a London MP and the shadow foreign secretary criticised these comments, deeming them "astonishing" for someone aspiring to hold the position of the city's mayor.

The timing of Susan Hall's comments is particularly notable, as they come just a week before the Notting Hill carnival is scheduled to take place. This annual event, celebrating Caribbean culture and community, is set to attract nearly two million attendees, making it the largest carnival of its kind in Europe.

Hall has been consistent in her stance that the carnival should be relocated from its longstanding venue in Notting Hill, where it has been held since 1966. In 2020, she expressed her incredulity that the carnival was allowed to continue in its current location, labelling it as "vandalism".

She questioned the wisdom of subjecting the police to the challenges posed by the event, both in terms of public safety and the associated costs to taxpayers. When the carnival returned to the capital after the disruptions caused by COVID-19, Hall reiterated her concerns, emphasising the violence that tends to arise and the strain it places on law enforcement resources.

In a past instance, she had indicated that the carnival had grown too large and advocated for its relocation, despite acknowledging its significance as an "incredible event". Hall's motivations for this position lie in safeguarding the well-being of both the police force and the local residents who endure the upheaval caused by the carnival.

Ken Livingstone, a former London mayor, had previously proposed initiating the carnival in Hyde Park before transitioning to its traditional location, but this idea was abandoned due to opposition.

The Metropolitan Police Federation also joined the chorus of voices calling for a change in the carnival's route. They cited a lack of sufficient resources to effectively manage the event, a concern that was exacerbated in the previous year when a fatal stabbing occurred, numerous police officers were injured, and hundreds of arrests were made.

A spokesperson for Hall defended her stance by highlighting her commitment to denouncing violence at public gatherings while celebrating London's diverse communities. This sentiment, however, contrasts with her criticism of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters in the wake of George Floyd's murder.

After the murder of George Floyd in the US, she said of a June 2020 London march, with thousands of people turning out in support of Black Lives Matter: "What a surprise, the protests have turned violent – says no one."

Her remarks on the 2020 London BLM march, which initially transpired peacefully but later saw clashes between protesters and police, drew attention for their dismissive tone.

Lammy, on the other hand, emphasised London's proud embrace of diversity and its recognition of it as a strength rather than a weakness.

He underscored the significant impact of black and Caribbean culture on the city's identity, with the Notting Hill Carnival being a globally renowned celebration of this heritage. Lammy found Hall's views concerning, characterising her as out of touch with London's values and incompatible with the position of mayor.

Hall had previously faced criticism for her remarks during a London Assembly committee session in February 2022. She expressed frustration about the accusation of racism when discussing crime within the black community, stating that there exists a reluctance to address these issues due to fear of being labelled as racist.

Her comments reflected a belief that politicians, particularly white ones, shy away from discussing these problems. She called for open dialogue and assistance for these communities without the fear of misrepresentation.

In a separate instance in 2020, Hall challenged the focus on the representation of black individuals in the cabinet, deeming it tokenism. She asserted that justice and fairness should be prioritised throughout society rather than superficial representation. She voiced her disapproval of demonstrations during the pandemic and criticised what she perceived as flawed reporting.

She said: "This is not what it's about, we need justice and fairness through society, not tokenism [sic]. I am disgusted by demonstrations during the pandemic and by ridiculous reporting."