Thursday, 22 March 2012

Livingstone logic

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.


  1. Good point, I spoke with Labour activists and Ken is a bit of a pain isn't he? Graft, corruption and anti-semitism. 99% of Londoners vote on fares, crime, housing but Livingstone is such a dork trying to court Islam that he alienates moderate Jews.

  2. Oh yes, and he campaigns for candidates who stand against the official Labour candidate. Always goes down well with the local party, that.

  3. Better than the Luciana Berger scenario "Daddy it would be awfully jolly to be an MP."

  4. He's a very odd man. Honestly, if I were a London er, I'd vote for Boris over Ken (even as an ardent socialist.) It's a shame that the Labour party can't put forward a decent, morally sound left-wing candidate.

  5. Oh, you old class warrior, you. She's very nice.

  6. But what can be done? Unfortunately he's the official candidate, the only serious runner against Boris. Paddick's a nice enough chap but I don't think he's cut out to be mayor (plus he's a LibDem and torture wouldn't make me vote for anyone belonging to that party of quislings). The Greens? Also-rans.

  7. Indeed, what can be done. Not much, I'm afraid. Perhaps the Labour Party needs to reflect on a selection process which selects a candidate with such serious drawbacks, and against the wishes of a large swathe of the party.

  8. My cousin is very nice but she does not get parachuted into safe seats by virtue of having been Euan Blair's mainsqueeze.

  9. A fair point made but the muslim population in the UK have been let down by an illegal war and the whole WMD debacle,not to mention very hostile policing and press. Being somebody's racist scapegoat isn't a great hoot;have you never heard of a politician buttering up his beloveds/potential voters before? After the Budget the old class divide, writ large under the past incumbents and added onto by our present ones,is back on the agenda. Muslim lover v Bullingdon Yob. Oh the agonies of the centre;mind how you sit on that fence now!

  10. Yes I am getting splinters up my arse! Ooh Matron!

  11. @andyholder, so, Britain invaded Iraq so now any attacks on the Jewish community are fair game, eh? Sorry, but I don't see the logic there at all.

  12. @LckyZm: we could. But probably not with these selection processes.

  13. Rob;

    I never said 'fair game';I described what I think is his political strategy,going for the Muslim vote over the Jewish vote and yes it is sectarian. But hasn't the Labour Party -with its illegal invasion of Iraq,dismantling big chunks of the civil liberties framework and advancing a surveillance society alongside - been doing just that against the muslim population? Respect Party didn't appear out of nothing,here was a community that was being directly harrassed,hence a significant amount of its population feeling 7/7 was partly a false flag operation,such was the feeling of paranoia. Interning young Asylum seekers added to this feeling.It's a logic sadly practised too often in Westminster;British Logic for British Politicians as Brown might have said,which translates to 'Scapegoat somebody'.
    Fair game? Racist game.

    And 'attack' can be verbal or involve British sold rockets,missiles and hardware being dropped on your home,causing loss of life;640,000 people according to The Lancet.Fair game? War game.

  14. @andyholder: well, no. The Labour Party has been in no way deliberately targeting the Muslim community, in fact it has worked extremely hard building links with it (sometimes even stupidly funding extremist organisations in the process).

    Ken's strategy is quite different, and is as you point out sectarian. You either agree with that or you don't, and you should say which. I don't. But don't move the argument onto other areas, because it's (a) irrelevant and (b) moral relativism.

  15. Rob wrote: "when interviewed by LBC on Tuesday he offered to pay it back – in the event that he were elected Mayor."

    Livingstone said no such thing. He said he would change his tax arrangements if elected, because then he would only have need for his mayoral income, not any income through any company of his.

    He made no suggestion that he would pay anything "back".

    Did you misrepresent Livingstone accidentally or deliberately?


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