I thought I’d said my piece on Ken and would now wait to see if he could muddle his way through to a Labour victory, however unlikely it might seem.
However it seems that Ken can’t help himself: he seems doomed to throw the election because of one thing: his own extraordinary lack of self-awareness.
Firstly it seemed impossible to make worse the situation with regard to the hypocrisy of his tax position but, no. Instead of doing the smart, if excruciatingly embarrassing, thing of saying it was all a mistake and he would pay the tax immediately (what we in the trade call "doing a Blears"), when interviewed by LBC on Tuesday he offered to pay it back – in the event that he were elected Mayor.
So, first of all you effectively acknowledge that your position is inconsistent and might, God forbid, be seen as hypocritical. And then link it to an event – the mayoral election – with which it has precisely zero to do.
In short, what you’re saying is, ok, I accept that what I did was unacceptable in light of my previous comments about tax avoidance. But it is only conditionally unacceptable, only in the event that I win the election (an event which, according to post-“taxgate” polling, is looking ever less likely). In the event that I don’t win, it was perfectly ok, thank you.
That, in short, is the extraordinary, Kafkaesque logic of Livingstone’s position.
And that might just allow him still to win, were it to stop there...but no. Readers of the Centre Left will recall how Livingstone was comprehensively rejected by London’s Jewish community last June, for various reasons but principally down to his support for anti-Semitic preachers and his comments to Jewish journalist Oliver Finegold, which resulted from his suspension from mayoral office. Now there’s more.
A letter to Ed Miliband was obtained by the Jewish Chronicle from some prominent members of said community, following a closed-door meeting with Ken on 1 March. In it, Ken managed to confuse “the words Zionist, Jewish and Israeli, interchangeably, as if they meant the same” – a well-known tactic of Jew-insult – as well as suggesting that, since most Jews were rich, and people tend to vote with their earnings demographic, they wouldn’t vote for him. Apart from the implied insult to the community, it reveals, if nothing else, an extraordinary cynicism of electoral calculation.
So, not content with compounding a blatantly inconsistent and hypocritical position on tax avoidance, he has now managed to alienate whatever small sections of the Jewish community might still be thinking of voting for him, and any right-thinking progressives along the way. It seems incredible, but a slight lead that Livingstone had managed to secure, is now drifting away as the scales fall from voters’ eyes.
If you can hear a clucking in the background, Ken, don’t get excited: that’s not the sound of fear in the offices of your opponents.
It’s the sound of chickens coming home to roost.