Sadiq Khan today refused to rule out raising the London mayor's share of the council tax, saying that Zac Goldsmith's promise to freeze it for four years would put Londoners' safety at risk.
In an interview with Politics.co.uk, Khan said he was "keen" to keep taxes low, but added that his opponent's pledge to freeze council tax for four years "beggars belief".
"I want council tax to be as low as possible… But bearing in mind there has been £600 million cut from the Metropolitan Police under the Tories, bearing in mind 70% of PCSOs have been lost over the last few years, how can a serious mayoral candidate promise to freeze council tax over the next four years?
"It beggars belief. It shows a lack of experience, a lack of judgment and somebody taking a risk with public safety."
Khan was speaking after a major speech on security and extremism. He said it was vital to increase the numbers of neighbourhood police across London, in order to prevent future terrorist attacks. He implied that a council tax raise may therefore be inevitable if the government makes further cuts to the policing budget.
"Lets take for example the chancellor next year decides to cut the police budget even more, is the Tory candidate for mayor Zac Goldsmith really saying that he will not increase the council tax to make sure we have got sufficient police officers to keep us safe?" he told Politics.co.uk
A spokesman for Zac Goldsmith said the comments proved that Londoners' taxes would rise under Khan.
"It’s official, he's admitted what we all know happens under Labour: sure as night follows day, council tax goes up.
"A vote for Khan will have a real consequence: every London family will face rising tax bills to fund his £1.9 billion black hole? By working with government Boris has been able to cut council tax while keeping police numbers high. With credible plans and a strong economic foundation, Zac will stand up for the police without resorting to Khan’s raid on London families."
Khan's comments come as a new poll shows the race for London mayor could be much closer than previously thought. The survey, conducted by Comres for LBC and ITV, found that Khan has a lead of just three points in first preference votes, by 52% to Goldsmith's 49%.
However, the poll also found that Khan is winning the lion's share of second preference votes. After those are taken into consideration, Khan's lead extends to six points, by 53% to 47%.
The Labour candidate used his speech today to address suggestions that he has been "linked" to extremist Muslim voices in the past. He said he had always been a "mainstream British Muslim" who had been told to "go to hell" by extreme members of his faith in the past. He also called on his fellow Muslims to challenge the "perverse and disgusting ideology" of Islamic extremism.
He described attempts to link him to those who hold such views, as "desperate".
"It shows how desperate the Tories are, the lengths they are going to to associate me with all these people," he told Politics.co.uk
"Anyone who knows anything about me will know what I stand for and what I believe in and arguing for throughout my political life… I want to be the British Muslim who takes the fight to the extremists."
He also addressed leaflets sent recently to certain ethnic minorities by Goldsmith's campaign, suggesting that a vote for Khan would lead to new taxes on family jewellery. He told Politics.co.uk:
"Can I reassure you whether you're a Tamil, whether you're a Hindu, whether you're a Sikh, whatever your ethnic origin or faith, I'm going to be a mayor for all Londoners and your gold is safe with me as the mayor."