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March 26, 2011


Ken’s hypocrisy and lies on Question Time.

Ken Livingstone’s appearance on Thursday’s Question Time was nothing short of incredible. Given that the programme’s only an hour in length, and given that he was one of five panellists, the number of ludicrous statements he managed to articulate was frankly staggering. Within five minutes of the start of the programme, he had explained that he is against our Libyan intervention (which has prevented the massacre of innocent civilians) on the grounds that we haven’t also intervened in Bahrain and Yemen (apparently if you can’t democratise the whole world, there’s no point democratising anywhere), we are in Libya for the oil (overlooking the fact that Colonel Gaddafi would probably have been more inclined to give us oil if we hadn’t started bombing him), and the Libyan intervention increases the chance of terrorist attacks at the 2012 Olympics (with the inference being that the awful Tories will be to blame if such attacks occur). Later in the programme, he expressed the incredible view that Britain should have fought alongside the Vietcong in the Vietnam War.

More than just foolishness, his comments smacked of utter hypocrisy. He banged on about the importance of human rights, yet he recently worked for the Iranian regime’s TV channel, Press TV. The last time I checked, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wasn’t a leading light in the human right movement. Likewise, Ken’s best mate Hugo Chavez – for whom he’s recently worked as a consultant – has been regularly criticised by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for his approach to human rights. And as for any remarks about our relationship with oil – he is the one who signed the most dodgy of oil deals with Chavez whilst London mayor.

Anyway, at least those comments could simply be dismissed as loopy views or rabid hypocrisy, as opposed to, say, inaccuracies or lies. He saved those for the discussion on cuts and the economy. As Toby Young explains:

“Thank God for Niall Ferguson. On Question Time this evening, Ken Livingstone claimed that when Labour entered office in 1997 government debt as a percentage of GDP was 42% and 13 years later, when Labour left office, it stood at 40%. The implication was clear: The Labour Party in office was a model of fiscal rectitude.

Ferguson pointed out that, in fact, debt as a percentage of GDP when Gordon Brown left office was 71.3% not 40%. And he’s absolutely right, asthis chart from the Office of National Statisticsmakes clear.

How satisfying it was to see an apologist for the last government caught out in a blatant lie.”

It was either a lie, as Young suggests, or evidence that he is numerically and financially illiterate. Either way, coupled with his outrageous earlier views, and coming just a couple of weeks after he flopped on the Politics Show and embarrassed himself in an interview with MayorWatch, the evidence suggests that he is becoming an increasingly unreliable media performer.

  1. Ian
    Mar 26 2011

    Funnily enough, Niall Ferguson and Toby Young were either lying or are numerically or financially illiterate too:

  2. Mar 27 2011

    Disagree. Toby Young’s comment on your article shows that he and Niall were right, and Ken was wrong.

  3. Ian Clark
    Mar 27 2011

    Well, you are free to disagree if you want. But Toby has not yet provided any evidence that GGGD is used as measure of national debt. The UK’s measure of national debt is Public Sector Net Debt, not GGGD which is a measure used by the EU under Maastricht.

    I’m quite prepared to change my view and correct my post if anyone can point me to a source that claims that GGGD is the measurement of UK national debt as opposed to the PSND (or even a source that claims GGGD is an alternative measure of national debt to PSND). According to the Treasury and the ONS, PSND is the measure of UK national debt.

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