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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

London mayoral battle heats up: Miliband labels Tory rival ‘flat earther’ in recent interview

Labour was accused on Friday of “Trump tactics” in the race for London’s mayoralty, after Ed Miliband branded Tory candidate Susan Hall a “flat earther”

Labour was accused on Friday of “Trump tactics” in the race for London’s mayoralty, after Ed Miliband branded Tory candidate Susan Hall a “flat earther”.

The remarks from the former Labour leader are likely to inflame an already bitter contest, with both of the largest parties accusing the other of telling lies.

Mr Miliband, now Shadow Energy Secretary, told reporters it would be “a global embarrassment for Britain, if Susan Hall was elected as the Mayor of London”.

He added: “It would empower and embolden the anti-net zero, flat earth brigade across the world.”

Asked whether he was saying Susan Hall is herself a “flat earther”, he said: “I am. I absolutely am. When you share, on social media, climate denial – literally people questioning whether climate change is man-made – that makes you a climate-denier, that makes you a flat-earther.”

Mr Miliband was referring to some now-deleted social media posts by Ms Hall – in particular, one where she shared an article from the Daily Sceptic which dismissed the impact of man-made greenhouse gas emissions on climate change. She urged the then-prime minister Boris Johnson to “please review the net zero agenda – especially now in times of financial hardship”.

But Ms Hall is not thought to have ever said or sympathised with the conspiracy theory that the earth is flat.

A spokesman for the Tory candidate said: “These Trump tactics from Sadiq Khan’s campaign are getting more and more desperate.

“On 2 May, Londoners will get the chance to vote out the Sadiq-earther at City Hall, who seems to believe that the earth revolves around himself.”

Responding to suggestions that Ms Hall is a “climate change denier”, her spokesman said: “Susan believes in a fair and practical transition to net zero, while Sadiq Khan believes in hitting motorists in the pocket with Ulez and pay-per-mile taxes.

“Susan will scrap Sadiq Khan’s Ulez expansion and pay-per-mile plans on her first day as mayor.”

Ms Hall’s claim that Mr Khan wishes to introduce a ‘pay-per-mile’ system of road user charging is based on the fact that he has in the past asked TfL to investigate the concept. But the mayor has since denied he has any plan to pursue such a system, telling the London Assembly in September 2023: “As long as I am mayor, we’re not going to have pay-per-mile”.

Mr Miliband joined Mr Khan during a visit to Stoke Newington School, where the mayor set out a ten-point climate action plan, to be implemented if he is re-elected in three weeks’ time.

Mr Khan has a significant poll lead over Ms Hall, and appears from recent surveys to be on course to win an historic third term.

Mr Milliband – who hoped to become prime minister a decade ago, before the Conservatives won a surprise majority of MPs – said: “You take nothing for granted. I stopped believing in polls after the 2015 general election.”

He added that the change of voting system since the last London mayoral election – and the fact that the previous Tory candidate, Shaun Bailey, performed better than expected – meant that there is still “everything to play for”.

Asked about Mr Miliband’s description of Ms Hall as a flat earther, Mr Khan said: “We’ve made sure we provide journalists with all the source references as to why we’re saying those sorts of things, and I’m sure I’ll be reading about it later on today.”

Mr Khan’s team had not supplied an example of Ms Hall endorsing the falsehood that the earth is flat.

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