Sadiq Khan accuses Tory mayoral opponent of trying to spark 'crude culture war' over Notting Hill Carnival criticism

24 August 2023, 11:02 | Updated: 24 August 2023, 11:10

Sadiq Khan hit out at Susan Hall over the Notting Hill Carnival
Sadiq Khan hit out at Susan Hall over the Notting Hill Carnival. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Sadiq Khan has railed against politicians using "crude culture wars" after his Tory opponent in the upcoming London mayor elections called the Notting Hill Carnival "dangerous".

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Susan Hall has been criticised for her past comments about the festival, in which two million people are expected to celebrate Caribbean culture on the street this weekend.

She suggested it should be moved from the west London neighbourhood because it puts people there through "hell".

"I attended Notting Hill Carnival last year to understand the police operation," she said in a tweet in 2020.

"It was unbelievable, I don't think the public realise just how dangerous it can get. Astonishing that we should put our police in this position every year and the cost to the taxpayers is eye watering."

Read more: £20,000 reward offered after father-to-be, 21, stabbed to death at Notting Hill Carnival

She was criticised by figures including David Lammy, who said her views made her unfit to be mayor.

Speaking on LBC's Speak to Sadiq with James O'Brien, the mayor said: "These issues should be discussed in a nuanced, sensible way, and I worry when politicians and leaders talk in soundbites to try and get a round of applause or to appeal to a certain audience.

Watch Again: Speak to Sadiq on LBC | 24/08/23

Susan Hall was attacked for her past criticism of the Notting Hill carnival
Susan Hall was attacked for her past criticism of the Notting Hill carnival. Picture: Alamy

"I'm also worried… about crude culture wars.

"I'm somebody who feels like a pawn in these crude culture wars often.

"It's for my Tory opponent to explain her comments… I will be at carnival this weekend."

Read more: Susan Hall wins race to become Tory candidate to face-off against Sadiq Khan in London mayoral election

There were 209 arrests at last year's event, in which Takayo Nembhard was stabbed to death. A £20,000 reward for information has been posted by Crimestoppers almost a year on.

Nembhard, from Bristol, was a rapper who performed under the name TKorStretch. He was expecting a child with his partner, who has since given birth.

Notting Hill celebrates Caribbean culture
Notting Hill celebrates Caribbean culture. Picture: Alamy

A female police officer was sexually assaulted by two men but was unable to find the culprits because of how many people were there.

Hall, who is a member of the London Assembly, rowed back slightly in her comments after the criticism.

A spokesperson for her campaign said: "Susan is proud to celebrate London’s diversity and as Mayor, she will end Sadiq Khan’s divisive politics and bring people back together.

"All Londoners are real Londoners, no matter what Sadiq Khan thinks. Susan makes no apology for condemning violence at public events and demonstrations."

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