Skip to content

September 25, 2011

After Ken Livingstone’s conference speech, a letter.

Dear Ken,

I’ve just read your conference speech with interest (my flatmate wouldn’t let me watch it live in case I “threw stuff at the TV again”). Whilst being naturally wary of hyperbole, I think I can genuinely say it’s one of the most contemptible, disingenuous and hypocritical speeches I’ve ever read. There are certain parts I’d like to take particular issue with here.

Within three sentences, my hackles were very much raised:

“You may think, why does he want to stand in what the Tories clearly intend to be a brutal fight?”

I reckon any independent observer would say your side has tried to be most ‘brutal’ thus far. You are the one who repeatedly calls Boris evil. You are the one who compared Sir Eddie Lister to Ratko Mladic. Your stooge Lee Jasper is the one who compared Boris to the Norwegian massacrist Anders Behring Breivik. You are the one who suggested Eddie Izzard should poison Boris. And yes, in your most flagrantly despicable hour, you are the one who compared Boris to Hitler.

“Only a few years ago London was leading the world. Yet now the image of London is a city of civil disorder and violence on our streets.”

Ah, so you’ve not given up on blaming the evil Tories for the London riots – despite being almost universally derided for that tactic at the time, and prompting one broadcaster to declare you’d “lost it”. It’s an even more ridiculous and offensive line given how much crime has fallen since you were mayor. Londoners are the safest they’ve been for years.

“The Tories say we must cut our national debt but they pile debt on our students.”

Firstly, those two things aren’t connected. At all. Secondly, the students won’t repay that debt until they get good jobs. Thirdly, your party just yesterday said that they too would double tuition fees. Fourthly, the issue has nothing to do with London politics. Next…

“Tory Wandsworth wants to charge kids to play in their local playground. Boris Johnson thinks this is such a good idea he made the leader of Wandsworth his new chief of staff.”

Where to start? Firstly, I understood the plans have been scrapped? Secondly, that chief of staff you mention – Eddie Lister – was recently knighted for his outstanding services to local government, having combined a four-star Audit Commission rating for excellence with the country’s lowest council tax bills and top resident satisfaction rating. Probably not your best line of attack, that.

“Instead of sticking to the day job Boris Johnson has a second job on the Daily Telegraph, earning £250,000.”

Ah, yes, how dare he spend an hour on a Sunday afternoon penning an article. How awful that the Mayor of London is a respected commentator. What a silly line of attack. I imagine he spends considerably less time doing that than you spent schmoozing with Yusuf al-Qaradawi and tending to your newts.

“I don’t want my kids growing up in a city where police are down and crime is up.”

Then you should be delighted with the crime rates in London since you were kicked out of City Hall. At the last count, crime had fallen by 5%, youth crime had fallen by 11%, robberies had fallen by 19% and the murder rate was at its lowest since 1978. And there’ll be one thousand more police on the streets by the end of Boris’ mayoralty than there were at the start.

“And then there are fares…”

Let me stop you there. Until you can deny that the record fare rises in the last couple of decades came during your mayoralty (you can’t deny it – it’s fact), I don’t think Boris is going to take lectures from you. What’s more, Boris has persuaded the Chancellor to fund the biggest transport upgrade in London for 80 years – something you never could have achieved.

“Tomorrow, I will announce my plan for fairer fares and I’m going to do it by text. Our campaign will be the first to announce a key policy by text.”

By text! By actual text message?! SMS?! How modern a mayor you could be! What a technological advancement in electoral campaigning! Text message! I can’t even imagine your excitement levels when you discover email. More to the point, I can’t wait to hear how you plan to fund what I assume is going to be an announcement of proposed fare cuts.

Because that’s the problem with nearly every one of your attack lines, every one of your policies, every one of your whims and aspirations – you can’t afford them. You are merely an embodiment of Thatcher’s line that socialists invariably run out of other people’s money. Unless you can prove otherwise, unless you can acknowledge the need for economic caution, unless you can show how you would play your part in keeping costs down, the public will strive to keep you out of office.

I hope that helps.

Kind regards,

Boris Backer

Comments are closed.