he Conservative candidate for London mayor Susan Hall has been accused of “dog whistle” politics after suggesting some Jewish Londoners are “frightened” of Sadiq Khan.
Ms Hall, speaking at at the Conservative Friends of Israel event at the Tory conference in Manchester on Monday, said: “I know how frightened some of the community is because of the divisive attitude of Sadiq Khan.
“One of the most important things that I will do when I become mayor of London is to make it safer for everyone, but particularly for our Jewish community.
“I will ask for as much help as I can get in London, because we need to defeat him.”
The comments drew immediate criticism from supporters of the Labour mayor, who is Muslim, and some Jewish groups, who called the comments “disgusting” and a “dog whistle”.
The Jewish Labour Movement accused Ms Hall of seeking “to use the Jewish community as political pawns,” while its chair, Mike Katz, described the comments as “vile, ignorant and wrong”.
“Sadiq has consistently gone out of his way to work with the Jewish community. He stood with [the Jewish Labour Movement] when we spoke out on anti-Semitism in Labour,” Mr Katz said.
“For Susan Hall to try to use this as a dog whistle is beneath contempt. She should apologise.”
Labour’s shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting called for the Conservative Party to condemn the remarks.
“Sadiq Khan has repeatedly stood by London’s Jewish communities in the fight against anti-Semitism,” he said.
“Susan Hall’s dog whistle politics have no place in London.”
At an earlier speech at Tory party conference on Sunday, Ms Hall appeared to make a gaffe by saying she hoped to be London’s “first female Labour” mayor.
She swiftly corrected the mistake, saying, “Never Labour. Your first female London Mayor.”
The London mayoral race appears to have narrowed in recent months, with a poll published last week suggesting that Ms Hall is just three points behind the Labour incumbent, who is also seeking another term.
The poll by JL Partners suggests a slim 35 per cent to 32 per cent majority of support for Mr Khan.
The Standard has contacted Ms Hall’s campaign team for comment.