London Labour MPs demand apology from Tory mayoral candidate over Notting Hill Carnival comments

Dawn Butler MP writes letter to Tory chairman accusing Susan Hall of making discriminatory comments, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Dawn Butler MP (left) and Tory mayoral candidate Susan Hall (right)
Dawn Butler MP (left) and Tory mayoral candidate Susan Hall (right)

Conservative London mayoral candidate Susan Hall “seems convinced of the innate criminality of black people”, a group of Labour MPs has alleged in a letter.

Hall’s campaign team said the letter consisted of “desperate smears and a complete mischaracterisation” of comments she had made in the past.

The letter was sent to Tory party chairman Greg Hands by Brent Central MP Dawn Butler and signed by nine of Labour’s other London MPs. It focuses on comments made in recent years by Hall about the Notting Hill Carnival. Edmonton MP Kate Osamor is among the signatories.

The comments, criticised earlier this week by shadow foreign secretary David Lammy, include Hall describing the carnival as “dangerous” and saying it puts local residents through “hell”.

The Tory assembly member and former Harrow Council leader has repeatedly said the event should be moved away from its Notting Hill location, where it has been held since 1966.

When it returned to the streets after Covid-19 last year, Hall said: “Of course police officers dread it, there is always violence and they put themselves in danger at every Notting Hill Carnival. The cost of policing it is eye-watering. How long will it be allowed to continue in this way? Crazy.”

She has also described the carnival in positive terms however, tweeting in 2019 that it is “an incredible event”, albeit one which has “become too big for its venue”.

The West London festival – which celebrates Caribbean culture and community – was held over the August bank holiday weekend.

In her letter to Hands, Butler wrote: “Your mayoral candidate seems convinced of the innate criminality of black people and has repeatedly implied that our community has a propensity toward violence and disorder, saying that black people have a ‘problem with crime’.”

She asked Hands to “require that Susan Hall withdraws her comments and issues a public apology to Londoners”, as well as calling on him to “publicly condemn and distance the Conservative Party from these comments and views”.

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She added: “Black Londoners deserve a mayoral candidate who celebrates alongside our community, rather than viewing us with suspicion. Susan Hall is not that candidate and we both know that full well.”

Responding, a spokesperson for Hall’s campaign said: “These are desperate smears and a complete mischaracterisation of what Susan said.

“In a discussion about restoring trust in the police for black Londoners, Susan called for the Met Police to provide more help and support to black communities, who are more likely to be victims of crime or to consider crime to be a serious problem in their area.

“Susan fully supports Notting Hill Carnival and believes it should be protected by making the route safer, as Ken Livingstone called for in 2004.

“Londoners deserve better than this gutter politics from Sadiq Khan and his friends, which serves only to distract from his disastrous Ulez expansion plans and create yet more division and polarisation in our city.”

Hall’s suggestion that the parade be moved to another location was previously floated by Labour mayor Ken Livingstone, but he faced opposition to the idea of moving it to Hyde Park.

Last year, the Met Police Federation also called for the route to be changed, saying they did not have the resources to police it effectively.

At 2022’s carnival, one person was fatally stabbed, more than 70 police were injured and 200 arrests were made. At this year’s event, eight men have been injured in separate stabbings, including one critically. There were 275 arrests across the two days of the carnival in total.

Hall, selected as the party’s mayoral candidate last month, will be going up against Labour’s Sadiq Khan in the election on 2nd May 2024. Khan, elected in 2016, is running for an historic third term.

Along with Dawn Butler, the other Labour MPs to have put their name to the letter are:

  • Apsana Begum (Poplar and Limehouse)
  • Stella Creasy (Walthamstow)
  • John Cryer (Leyton and Wanstead)
  • Marsha de Cordova (Battersea)
  • John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington)
  • Kate Osamor (Edmonton)
  • Bell Ribeiro-Addy (Streatham)
  • Virendra Sharma (Ealing Southall)
  • Sam Tarry (Ilford South)

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