I’ve mentioned before how much I enjoy receiving emails from Ken Livingstone’s campaign team. Today’s was a real gem. Alongside another negative campaign ad (attacking Boris over police numbers, despite the fact that there’ll be 1,000 more police on the streets by May than there were in 2008) was this frankly astonishing claim:
“…unlike the Tories, who are resorting to dirty smear attacks, we are running a very positive campaign.”
As far as self-delusion goes, it’s up there with Gordon Brown’s “I saved the world!”. Ken’s campaign has been almost entirely negative thus far, the most notable example of which was when he was widely condemned for comparing Boris to Adolf Hitler and arguing that anyone who votes for Boris in May will burn forever in hell.
Then there was the time that he declared City Hall to be filled with “evil”, the time he compared Boris’ chief of staff to Serbian war criminal Ratko Mladic (prompting the London Assembly to pass a motion condemning his remarks), the time he said he hoped that a young Tory councillor and Boris supporter would “burn in hell…flesh flayed for all eternity”, the time he said that Eddie Izzard should poison Boris, the time he said George Osborne should be hanged.
Then there’s the constant reference, in every speech and on every publication, to the money Boris earns from the Telegraph, as if being a respected journalist, and writing a short column on his Sunday afternoon off, is something that Boris should be ashamed of. And, while on the subject of politics-of-envy, there was that time that Ken’s supporters were all sent off to a Boris event to loiter around outside dressed as “toffs”.
Just before Christmas, leaked documents showed Ken’s campaign manager’s new big idea was to brand Boris an evil Tory. More recently, his campaign has sent someone dressed in a chicken outfit on a series of negative publicity stunts, and they’ve set up the Boris Johns-hen Twitter account to angrily spam many of Boris’ supporters.
On more substantive issues, Ken has constantly favoured negatively attacking Boris rather than positively explaining what he would do differently. He mentioned Boris nearly 30 times in a hate-filled, ten-minute party conference speech. He even tried to blame Boris for the London riots – to almost universal derision.
If that’s been Ken campaigning positively, one can only hope that he doesn’t decide to ‘go negative’…