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’…
Just when one imagined it impossible for Ken Livingstone to reach greater levels of depravity, it was today reported that he has compared Boris to Hitler. He’s described the mayoral contest as being a battle between good and evil – akin to Churchill and Hitler. He’s also said that anyone who doesn’t vote for him will go to hell. The full quote – as reported by Total Politics’ Amber Elliott – is as follows:
“It’s a simple choice between good and evil – I don’t think it’s been so clear since the great struggle between Churchill and Hitler… The people that don’t vote for me will be weighed in the balance, come Judgement Day. The Archangel Gabriel will say, ‘You didn’t vote for Ken Livingstone in 2012. Oh dear, burn forever. Your skin flayed for all eternity.’”
I’m not going to over-analyse the quote, because it largely speaks for itself. It’s just contemptible. What I will add is that it can’t be dismissed as an out-of-character aberration. It comes just months after Ken compared Boris’ Chief of Staff to Serbian war criminal, Ratko Mladic. It comes just weeks after he declared Boris and everyone in City Hall to be “evil”. And, lest we forget, it comes six years after he was suspended from office, pre-appeal, for comparing a Jewish newspaper reporter to a Nazi concentration camp guard. Such comments display an abhorrent flippancy towards incidents of mass genocide, and a willingness to say absolutely anything, regardless of taste or class, to get one over on his opponents. The electorate awaits, Ken…
There was a curious piece with Ken Livingstone in yesterday’s Sunday Times. It consisted of two parts – a ‘Day in the Life’ piece and then ten questions. The first part is bizarre for the way in which he paints a picture of a perfectly quaint retirement – he likes gardening and washing-up – and gives no sense of being eager to start a frenetic and arduous four-year job next May. One wonders how genuinely committed he is to winning back the mayoralty.
The second part – the ten questions video – is the real gem, though. When asked what makes him sad, he claims it’s “all the things that should be happening in London, but aren’t because evil stalks our streets and City Hall”. Evil? Really, Ken? Of course, the response fits with recent comments in which he compared Boris’ Chief of Staff to Ratko Mladic, and his stooge Lee Jasper suggested there were similarities between Boris and the Norwegian murderer, Anders Behring Breivik. Someone really needs to let the Livingstone camp know that painting Boris and his team as “evil” simply isn’t going to win them the election.
He then goes on to claim that nothing makes him angry because he has low levels of adrenaline. But what about the ‘evil’, Ken? Doesn’t the ‘evil’ make you angry? In all seriousness, the low adrenaline would explain his lack of passion for things which normal people get justifiably angered by. Remember the teenage murders in March 2008 – as the capital recoiled with shock, its mayor dismissed the media hype, casually remarking “if it bleeds, it leads”.
In another question, when asked what he dislikes most in others, he cites “their failure to vote for me at all times”. I’d be inclined to put that down as an attempt at a joke if he didn’t say it with such obvious surety. Clearly his respect for democracy and the will of the people is as low as when he wrote a book entitled “If voting changed anything, they’d abolish it” in the late eighties. Let’s hope Londoners give him even more reason to dislike them next May…
You remember Lee Jasper? The very epitome of Livingstone stooge, he advised Ken during his eight years as Mayor before being forced to quit after it was discovered he had channelled hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money to projects run by a woman he was simultaneously bombarding with sexually explicit emails.
Mark Wallace over on the excellent Crash Bang Wallace site revealed recently that Ken and Lee were to be reunited as fellow speakers as the TUC’s May Day Rally. Ken instantly backed out, citing “family commitments” – the classic cover for an embarrassing exit. When Mark then speculated that Lee is still advising Ken behind the scenes, Ken’s press guy refused to confirm or deny…
So why the background? Jasper today suggested similarities between Boris and Anders Behring Breivik, the evil bastard who killed dozens of children in Norway on Friday.
It’s hard to think of a more sickening, repugnant, classless comparison right now. Yes, both men are blonde – well noticed, you vile cretin. To connote any other similarities is just loathsome. All eyes instantly turned to Ken, who was forced to come out and pass judgement on his friend’s comments.
As far as denials of concurrence go, it’s frankly threadbare. The claim that Jasper is not “in any way involved” in Ken’s campaign is dubious at best. More absurd still is his claim that he “self-evidently” doesn’t agree with the comments. How is it self-evident? The fact that Ken just last month compared Boris’ chief-of-staff to the massacring Serbian Ratko Mladic suggests that comparisons with mass murderers are a popular campaigning method amongst Ken and his cronies, and makes Ken’s disagreement with the comments not at all ‘self-evident’.
Incidents such as these remind us who it is we’re trying so hard to keep out of City Hall. Just three years ago, these depraved individuals were running London. London is a better place for their subsequent impotence.
Warm congratulations are due to Boris’ new Deputy Mayor and Chief of Staff, Eddie Lister, who has been knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to local government. As I wrote earlier in the week, Lister has a superb record of keeping council tax down while delivering high-quality services. As leader of Wandsworth Council, he combined a four-star Audit Commission rating for excellence with the country’s lowest council tax bills and top resident satisfaction ratings. The knighthood is a recognition of both the council’s success and Lister’s highly distinguished career. It is a real boon for Boris to have a man with such huge and respected experience in local government working alongside him; his is an appointment which will benefit all Londoners.
Of course, the news of the knighthood makes Ken Livingstone’s comments last week – in which he branded Lister “the Ratko Mladic of local government” – seem even more ridiculous, desperate and beneath contempt.
I wrote at the weekend about Ken Livingstone branding Boris’ Chief of Staff, Eddie Lister, “the Ratko Mladic of local government”. I suggested that the scale of the comment’s offensiveness and moronity meant that it was more than just yet another case of Ken being rude, and deserved to be highlighted. Nor was it, as some desperate Labour supporters have tried to suggest, a joke. Sure enough, as the excellent MayorWatch reports, the London Assembly today passed a motion condemning Ken’s remarks.
What’s even more interesting than Ken’s embarrassing rebuke is the actual wording of the motion (which I’ve stolen shamelessly from the MayorWatch article):
“That this Assembly notes the answers to the questions asked and welcomes the appointment of Edward Lister to the role of Chief of Staff and Deputy Mayor, Planning. This Assembly believes his long and distinguished experience in local government will benefit all of London and calls on all Members of the Assembly to disassociate themselves from the disgusting personal attacks made by a member of the public comparing him to a mass murderer and war criminal.”
As well as disassociating itself from Ken’s ‘disgusting personal attacks’, the motion praises Eddie Lister’s ‘long and distinguished experience in local government’. That’s interesting because the motion was supported by the Lib Dem Assembly Members. Their willingness to give Ken a kicking whilst praising Boris’ Chief of Staff – albeit with some minor caveats – could have reasonable implications, given the second preferences of Lib Dem supporters could swing next year’s mayoral election if it’s a close race.
Anyway, that’s mere conjecture. What is fact is that Ken Livingstone can now add a rebuke from the London Assembly over these comments to the wide criticism he’s received for, amongst other things, working for Iranian state television, befriending Yusuf al-Qaradawi, campaigning for Lutfur Rahman, being best mates with the increasingly megalomaniacal Hugo Chavez, comparing a Jewish journalist to a concentration camp guard, and calling Barack Obama a mobster for having Osama bin Laden killed. Every time the mask slips and Ken’s extremist views emerge, it becomes that bit harder to imagine him celebrating victory at the mayoral election next spring.
[NOTE: You can watch the questions to Lister, and the debate on the subsequent motion, here.]
If I wrote a new blog-post every time Ken Livingstone said something offensive or moronic, I’d have no time to do anything else. What’s more, Ken, rather than Boris, would become this blog’s primary focus, which was never the intention. That said, some of the things he says are so offensive or so moronic, that they really deserve to be highlighted. His comments on Eddie Lister, Boris’ Chief of Staff, fit both those categories.
Lister, you might remember, was appointed just recently, after the tragic early death of Sir Simon Milton. He has a proven track record in local government of keeping council tax down while delivering high-quality services. As leader of Wandsworth Council, he combined a four-star Audit Commission rating for excellence with the country’s lowest council tax bills and top resident satisfaction ratings. You get the idea – he’s brilliant at his job, and an excellent person for Boris to have on board at City Hall. He isn’t really the kind of person you’d typically compare to a perpetrator of genocide. Except that’s exactly what Ken Livingstone did earlier in the week.
When discussing the news that Lister’s former council might make a charge for the use of a playground, Ken called Lister “the Ratko Mladic of local government”. Mladic, lest we forget, was recently arrested after 16 years on the run – he is accused of genocide and, specifically, the massacre of at least 7,500 Bosnian Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995. The comparison is as absurd as it is insensitive. Perhaps we should ask the relatives of those killed if they think the treatment their sons, brothers, husbands and fathers received was akin to being asked to pay a small fee to use a playground?
Anyway, in itself, Ken’s comment is utterly risible, and should really – as with most of the things he says – be ignored. But I wonder if we can draw a broader point from his latest bout of senselessness. I wonder if it is exactly this kind of comment – the insensitivity, the derangement, the coldness, the wild delusion, the out-of-touch views, the arrogant belief that anyone with a differing approach is comparable to a mass murderer, the thoughtless loose tongue – that will ultimately see Ken fail in his bid to regain the mayoralty.