Zac Goldsmith has accused Labour rival Sadiq Khan of being more interested in political point scoring than improving the quality of London’s council homes.
Last month the Tory mayoral candidate said he was in favour of replacing existing council estates with new homes where such schemes were backed by “a majority” of residents.
Mr Goldsmith also said that, were he mayor, all existing residents would be eligible for a new home on the transformed estate and pledged that “no-one” would pay more than the rent of their previous property.
Tooting MP Mr Khan has characterised the policy as an “attack on London’s council housing” and called his opponent’s stance “wrong & offensive”.
— Sadiq Khan MP (@SadiqKhan) 2 March 2016
However Goldsmith has now hit back, claiming that Mr Khan and Labour know action is needed to improve the quality of London’s council homes but prefer to politicise the issue for party advantage.
On Thursday night he said: “The only possible explanation, that I can find, is that by ruling it out it enables them in the run up to the election to put leaflets through people’s doors saying: ‘If you vote Tory you’re going to lose your home’
He added: “It’s a bogus argument, it’s a dishonest argument and I’m completely determined between now and May 5th to win that argument because I absolutely know it’s the right thing for London”.
Goldsmith made his comments at a public Q&A organised by his mayoral campaign where he was questioned about the policy by a concerned audience member.
He also used the event to portray Mr Khan as a “tribal” politician who, he claimed, had failed to engage with ministers on a number of issues, including housing, on which he’s now campaigning.
And Goldsmith sharpened his attack on Khan’s change of mind over Heathrow expansion, suggesting that had Labour won the 2010 General Election Mr Khan, who was the transport minister at the time, would have approved a third runway.
Although Khan now opposes expansion he did previously support Heathrow’s calls for a third runway.
His change of position was previously attacked by Tottenham MP David Lammy who unsuccessfully challenged Khan for the Labour candidacy.
At a Labour selection debate last June, Mr Lammy said: “Sadiq was for Heathrow expansion in 2008, he was for it when he was transport secretary in 2009, he was for it on the Sunday Politics just a few months ago. Zac Goldmsith’s announced he’s running and suddenly Sadiq is against it.”
He also accused his rival, who he’s since campaigned and fundraised for, of resorting to “the same Ed Miliband politics that got us nowhere” at May’s General Election by changing his mind on the issue.