Minorities being humiliated for 'political gain', London mayor Sadiq Khan says

There is a "concerted attempt" to "humiliate minorities for political gain", London's mayor has said.

Referencing the "level of debate in public life", Sadiq Khan also claimed the prime minister had failed properly to condemn remarks made about him by Tory MP Lee Anderson.

The former deputy chairman of the Conservative Party claimed just over a week ago that Islamists had "got control" of Mr Khan and London, while expressing concerns about "racist abuse" during pro-Palestinian marches. He has since lost the Tory whip.

Mr Khan was speaking 24 hours after a speech in Downing Street by Rishi Sunak, who said "forces at home" had been "trying to take advantage" of the human suffering caused by the Israel-Hamas war to "advance a divisive, hateful, ideological agenda".

Mr Sunak took to the lectern outside Number 10 after the victory of George Galloway in the Rochdale by-election this week, with the prime minister saying the incoming Workers Party of Britain MP "dismisses the horror of what happened on 7 October" when Hamas killed about 1,200 people in southern Israel and took many more hostage.

Mr Khan, speaking to delegates at the London Labour Conference, said: "A week on from the racist, anti-Muslim and Islamophobic remarks made by a senior Tory member of parliament, and the complete failure of Rishi Sunak even as he stood outside Number 10, or anyone around him to condemn them for what they are, it's important to say a few words about the level of debate in public life.

"What we're witnessing is a concerted and growing attempt by some to degrade and humiliate minorities for political and electoral gain."

During some of the protests against the war in Gaza there have been chants of "from the river to the sea", which many Jewish people consider to be antisemitic, and a call for Israel to be wiped from the map.

Streets are being "hijacked by small groups who are hostile to our values and have no respect for our democratic traditions", the prime minister said on Friday night.

Mr Khan said that "as the poison of antisemitism and the poison of Islamophobia continues to infect our politics, now, more than ever, we need to display our best values rather than our worst fears".

He also said that diversity is London's "biggest strength".

London Labour MP Dawn Butler told Sky News the Conservatives are "stoking culture wars".

She also claimed the prime minister's speech in Downing Street was an "abuse of his office" and such matters should happen in parliament.

Moreover, he "didn't make any meaningful announcement", she said, and claimed he had a "blind spot" on Islamophobia.

Meanwhile, the Campaign Against Antisemitism said that while it welcomed the prime minister's words, "firm action is long overdue".

It added: "That action must materialise urgently. Extremists are not simply highjacking protests, they are organising them."

Read more:
George Galloway hits back at 'little' Rishi Sunak
How big a threat are Galloway and Gaza to Labour?

There are concerns that British democracy could be damaged by threats of violence.

Three female MPs have reportedly been provided with security, while a debate in parliament on Gaza was allegedly changed because of fears over MPs' safety.

"Threats of violence and intimidation are alien to our way of doing things," Rishi Sunak said on Friday. "They must be resisted at all times."

He has condemned Lee Anderson's attack on Sadiq Khan as unacceptable and "wrong".

Lee Anderson has refused to apologise for his comments, but did describe them as "clumsy".