In no particular order, and in what is by no means a comprehensive list, here are 50 reasons to not vote for Ken Livingstone:
1) Ken invited to London, embraced and defended Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a man who defends Palestinian suicide bombers, condones wife-beating, favours female genital mutilation, and advocates the persecution of Jews and homosexuals.
2) One of Ken’s senior staffers complained of “sexism” and of “an abusive culture” on his election campaign. She claims she was used as a “pretty face” and “token Asian”.
3) During his 8 years in City Hall, Ken increased the mayor’s share of Londoners’ council tax by 152% – costing the average London family an extra £964.
4) Ken hurled Nazi abuse at a Jewish Evening Standard journalist, prompting an Adjudication Panel to suspend him from office for a month (although the suspension was later quashed).
5) Ken put tens of thousands of pounds of personal expenses on his City Hall credit card – including £6,405 on a first-class return ticket to Miami, £2,884 on a single wine spree, £257 on a pair of shoes and £616 on two dinners with Ed Balls.
6) Ken campaigned against his party in supporting the extremist-linked Lutfur Rahman‘s bid to become Mayor of Tower Hamlets.
7) Ken sparked anger after pronouncing we should “hang a banker a week”.
8) There’s a wide coalition of experts – including Ken – who say that his pledge to cut fares is an unfunded deceit.
9) Tax avoidance: Ken has channelled over £750,000 of income into a private company, meaning he has paid a lower rate of income tax than even a City Hall cleaner. This despite him having insisted that tax avoiders should not be allowed to vote. He now refuses to publish his certified accounts, despite having repeatedly promised to do so.
10) Tax evasion?: The less-mentioned part of Ken’s tax scandal is that he has also been reported to HMRC over ‘irregular’ tax deductible expenses.
11) Ken’s team lied about the use of actors in his election broadcast, at which he wept in front of journalists. One of the people in the film, an old lady, was asked to reminisce about Ken introducing free bus passes – despite free bus passes for old people having been introduced eight years before Ken became leader of the GLC.
12) Ken sparked fury by comparing Boris to Adolf Hitler.
13) Ken has made £2.7billion of unfunded spending commitments during this campaign. To afford the pledges – which include extravagances such as £54million on cinema tickets – the average London household’s council tax would have to increase by £348, and the congestion charge would need to be raised to £15.
14) Ken claimed the killing of the world’s most renowned terrorist, Osama bin Laden, made President Obama look like a “mobster”.
15) Ken sparked outrage by saying the Tory Party was “riddled” with homosexuals.
16) Ken was accused of ‘dog-whistle politics’ after calling for London to become a “beacon of Islam”.
17) Ken spent £20,500 of taxpayers’ money on a lunch for his old socialist chum Hugo Chavez.
18) Ken was accused of “crass political opportunism” after blaming the London riots on Boris and the government.
19) Ken said he “didn’t feel responsible” for the 26 teenage murders on London’s streets in 2007.
20) The independent Forensic Audit Panel said that the London Development Agency under Ken had squandered tens of millions of pounds of public money. It had “misspent money on a massive scale”, they said.
21) Ken is dependent on the trade unions for both financial and political support, meaning he can never stand up to their strikes and pay demands.
22) Ken told a group of Jewish Labour supporters that Jews would not vote for him because they are rich. He was also accused of ”highly offensive” language by using the words Zionist, Jewish and Israeli interchangeably.
23) Ken ensured eight of his closest cronies received taxpayer-funded pay-offs totalling £1.6 million after he changed the rules shortly before he lost the 2008 election.
25) Ken is lying to London’s youngsters by telling them he would reinstate EMA payments, when Channel 4′s FactCheck has already adjudicated that he would be unable to do so.
26) The London Assembly passed a motion condemning Ken for comparing Boris’ chief of staff Sir Eddie Lister to the Serbian war criminal Ratko Mladic.
27) Ken scrapped London’s Routemasters three years after saying “Only some ghastly dehumanised moron would want to get rid of the Routemaster.”
28) Ken variously juggled seven jobs when Mayor. He was MP for Brent East for over a year, Evening Standard columnist, Morning Star columnist, Independent columnist, he ran a company into which he channelled income from paid speeches, and he found time for occasional Have I Got News For You appearances. He later criticised Boris for having a Telegraph column.
29) Ken told a young Tory councillor that he wanted him to ”burn in hell” and “your flesh flayed [by] demons for all eternity.”
30) A television documentary revealed that Ken regularly drank whisky at 10 o’clock in the morning whilst Mayor.
31) After leaving City Hall, Ken got a job working for Press TV – the propaganda arm of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Iranian regime.
32) Violent crime in London went up by more than 11% during Ken’s mayoralty.
33) Ken has said that if he wins the election he would work closely with the Greens, who want to increase the congestion charge to up to £40 a day.
35) Many people in Ken’s own party are refusing to back him. They include Labour peers Lord Sugar (who wrote an entire Sun article urging people not to back Ken) and Lord Winston (who attacked Ken’s “disastrous” and “unhealthy” politics), Tony Blair’s biographer John Rentoul, and respected Guardian journalist Jonathan Freedland.
36) Ken seems to have an unhealthy interest in the Third Reich. In his autobiography, there are 23 references to Nazis and 16 mentions of Hitler. He mentions Zionism more times than TfL.
37) Ken dismissed the deaths of two teenagers, blaming the media for hyping the story - declaring “if it bleeds, it leads”.
38) Ken spent £36,000 of taxpayers’ money on a jaunt to Cuba and Venezuela.
39) Ken ignored knife crime during his mayoralty. It wasn’t even measured until his final year in office.
40) Lee Jasper. No further comment necessary.
41) Between 2001/02 and 2007/08, public disorder offences on the Tube increased by 521%, with violent crime up by 56%.
42) Ken has said he will force through his plans for the Thames Gateway Bridge, despite strong opposition in Bexley and Greenwich. During the public consultation in 2005-06, 4,800 objections were made by local residents.
43) At both the 2000 and 2004 elections, Ken pledged to freeze fares. In both cases he broke his promise, by hiking fares up shortly afterwards.
44) In 2003, Ken pledged to freeze the congestion charge for ten years. In 2005, he increased it by 60%.
45) Ken wants to re-establish the dodgy oil deal with Venezuela – a deal he said was “only controversial if you believe the CIA’s take on Chavez”.
46) Ken appointed Bob Crow – responsible for so many disruptive strikes in London – to the Transport for London board.
47) Ken spent £2.8million a year on his propaganda newsletter The Londoner.
48) Ken has said that anyone who doesn’t vote for him “will burn forever. Your skin flayed for all eternity.”
49) During his two terms as mayor, Ken spent £27,997,000 of taxpayers’ money on publicity and advertising.
50) Ken doesn’t even like the job of mayor, telling journalists earlier this month that he is “opposed to the idea of directly-elected mayors”.