19 August 2011

Once more unto the breach, dear Friends....

Have been kept, somewhat embarrassingly away from the mundanities of blogging by having to take care of administration on my new abode on the other side of the Atlantic,so have been on 'silent running' for a couple of weeks. however, despite a backlog of about seven posts (events never stop in the real world) a story from the UK necessitates comment. Several months back I referred to Labour's mayoral candidate, Ken Livingstone as the Jason Voorhees/Freddy Krueger of British Politics for his tasteless comparison of opponent Boris johnson's Chief of Staff, Eddie Lister, to Bosnian Serb commander and suspected war criminal, Rlatko Mladic. In this stunningly hamfisted interview in Total Politics, he goes one better than that by equating the coming mayoral struggle with the fight between Churchill and Hitler in World War Two.

The blog entry by the controversist, Toby Young, author of How to lose Friends and alienate people posits that Livingstone, through a combination of frustration and possibly premature senility has become unhinged, and several commentators on the post take him to task for not realising that what was said was Ken 'being drole' or making an attempt at humour. Whilst I would also agree this could be an interpretation, the problem for him is that, of arguably any politician in the last 30 years, Livingstone is a master of taking vicarious offence on behalf of the many 'minorities' (women, non-caucasians, homosexuals, LGBT, even famously the Irish in the height of the troubles) that comprise his 'rainbow' coalition. To illustrate the point, can one imagine the reaction of the Labour Left, the Guardian, Independent and the BBC (funded by a £155 stipend on every TV watching household in the country) had Johnson made the quite accurate remark that the election were 'reminscent of Korea and Vietnam'? - a statement which given Livingstone's quite self -evident links with both the Northern parts of those two countries' proxy allies during the conflicts in question is really quite unobjectionable to anyone without a vested interest in this man's election.

The issue is ,when you take an innocent remark out of context and, even though not part of the 'minority' in question, call for people to resign or apologise, it is rank hypocrisy to expect others to turn the cheek to the most odious and outrageous calumnies,even if they are said in jest. Having fallen foul of this with a tactless comment comparing a Jewish Evening Standard reporter to a concentration camp guard, I'd have thought Livingstone would have known better.

The sadly departed from the Telegraph, Simon Heffer, summed up the position quite admirably following the furore over Cameron's rather crass remarks to Labour shadow Minister, Angela Eagle. The Left's very 'thin skin' and the basic paucity of many of their arguments mean that the reflex weapon of howling 'racist' or 'sexist' or 'homophobe' is often the only weapon in their armoury. however, unless one wishes to fall foul of Livingstone's rather curious 'sense of humour', I would strongly urge anyone reading this who is able to vote for Johnson next year, lest you find yourself tagged as a member of the Waffen SS and subject to 'denazification' or 'war crimes trials' (just joking on the latter of course, Christ, don't you people have a sense of humour?)


Hal Berstram said...

This is a storm in a teacup (your teacup...) it really is.

Boris will probably spend most of his campaigning time *also* arguing that the mayoral contest is equivalent to Churchill vs Hitler... with Boris in the Churchill role. Boris certainly sees himself as the reincarnation of Churchill... the maverick waiting in the wings to take over when conventional politicians fail. Ken makes that point later in the interview, I see.

If Ken had specifically said "Boris Johnson is a Nazi" then Boris would have a legitimate complaint. But he hasn't said that. And yes, the Total Politics interview did feature humour. The difference between Ken Livingstone's humour and Dave Cameron is that Cameron - like many Tories - is an unreconstructed 1970s "sexist pig", whereas Ken is a gentle humourist in the Tommy Cooper mould.

I agree, BTW, that Ken's concentration camp jibe against the Evening standard reporter was totally unacceptable and out of order. I'd imagine that in retrospect so would he.

Cameron on the other hand has never apologised for "calm down dear" and probably never will. That's because he doesn't see anything wrong with being a sexist bastard.

You know what I think? You've been reduced to taking cheap shots like this at Livingstone because you know Boris Johnson is a crap Tory candidate and you've got no other ammunition. Maybe you try talking about the policies instead of this random nonsense next time? Good one.

Van Patten said...

It's good to see I've struck a nerve here. I'd normally agree and indeed if Ed Miliband (whatever else I think of him) had made the comment I'd probably move on. The point is that Livingstone is swift to take offence at any imputation of racism, sexism or any other '-ism. It's one of the policies that define him as a political being. Thus being compared to Hitler is acceptable in your eyes, because the Nazi inference was indirect? As to the comparison with Tommy Cooper, I think Cooper would turn in his grave to be compared to such a priggish politico. It's unlikely we'll see eye to eye on the Cameron/Eagle exchange. Yours and the Labour Left's reaction kind of makes my point for me....

Hence your remark 'to concentrate on the policies' is both ludicrous and the sign of desperation on your part.

What policies of Ken would you see as superior to Johnson? His record in 8 years in office was unambiguously atrocious. More subsidies for fares on unused buses? Greater Local authority taxation for his Rainbow coalition? More (to use a US aphorism) pork barrel expenditure? Indeed it was Ken who made the remark, not I.. The old adage of 'You live by the sword' was never more apt.