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February 21, 2011

Gaddafi, Chavez and Livingstone: Ken’s shame.

It is horrendous to see the tragic atrocities that have occurred in Libya in the last few days. Having finally had enough of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s lengthy and aggressive dictatorship – and surely drawing inspiration from Egypt’s recent removal of Hosni Mubarak – the Libyan people have risen up against the government as part of what seems like a monumental political sea-change in the Middle East. Gaddafi has, predictably, responded to the riots and demonstrations in the only way he knows – with force. Libyan soldiers have opened fire on protesters and mourners alike, in a brutal attempt to repress the anti-government movement. Hundreds of people are thought to have been killed in what has been described as ‘genocide’ by Libya’s deputy ambassador to the UN.

Meanwhile, it is now being reported that Gaddafi – his grip on power weakening by the hour – has fled the country. Who, though, would be so depraved and immoral as to welcome the shamed, discredited, overthrown instigator of mass murder? The answer, of course, is obvious: his old socialist chum Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela. William Hague, British Foreign Secretary, claims to have seen evidence that Gaddafi is indeed on his way to Caracas. Despite Chavez’s personal commitment to his country’s democratisation, he has shown dictatorial tendencies of his own – the country’s seen politically motivated arrests, reduced press freedom, and an orchestrated erosion of the judiciary’s independence. Chavez has been widely criticised by, amongst others, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch – not just for these matters, but also for his alliance with the likes of Gaddafi. That he has (allegedly) so readily offered exile to the perpetrator of the evil massacre of innocent people says a huge amount about the kind of person he is, and about the kind of government that he leads. Frankly, even if Hague’s intelligence turns out to be incorrect, it is still a grave embarrassment and indictment of Chavez’s character that the world has barely raised an eyebrow at today’s news.

He is not, you might say, the kind of person you’d typically choose to work for or be friends with. Unless, of course, your name’s Ken Livingstone…

Livingstone’s relationship with Chavez is as strong as Chavez’s relationship with Gaddafi. The three are near-inseparable in terms of their fanaticism of socialism. Ken, when Mayor of London, famously agreed an oil deal with Venezuela so lacking in moral-fibre that one of Boris’ first acts as mayor was to cancel it. Boris said at the time that he refused to be on Chavez’s payroll. Ken had no such concerns – within months of losing the mayoralty in 2008, he had agreed to act as a consultant to Chavez on policing, transport and urban affairs. He insisted that his association with Chavez – whom he described as a friend – was not controversial “unless you believe American propaganda”.

Unfortunately for Ken, most people do believe the Americans, and the news that Chavez has offered political exile to a massacring dictator rather supports their argument. All of this, of course, comes just a month after Ken was revealed to have been paid thousands of pounds by Iranian state television. As a friend of Hugo Chavez and [former] employee of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it becomes increasingly clear that Ken cares not who he consorts with in his unrelenting pursuit of socialism and cash. ‘Guilt by association’ is often said to be a bit of a fallacy – but in the case of Ken Livingstone, those he associates with offer a very real reflection of his character.

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