They're All Behind You, Ken. (Carrying hatchets)
I'm not an unqualified supporter of Ken Livingstone. I think he has made some serious misjudgements. But when people on the left start doing hatchet jobs on Ken you wonder if they really want Boris as the next Mayor of London.
Last night's Dispatches (Channel 4) was a pretty pathetic piece of character assassination. Much of it was trivial stuff. So Ken sips from a glass of whisky during Mayor's Question Time. Well, until the puritanical Brown, it was a tradition for the Chancellor to sip from a glass of whisky or brandy when presenting his Budget to the House of Commons. If the programme had any evidence that Ken was pissed out of his brain for most of the time, presumably they'd have produced it. But they didn't.
(I think the well-known Westminster blogger Guido Fawkes should delete the comments on his blog today that describe Ken as a "chronic alcoholic". Libel laws do apply to blogs, you know. Get your writs out, Ken).
The argument that the Mayor has too much power was an odd one since the previous consensus was that the Mayor did not have enough power or autonomy. For example, Gordon Brown was able to impose public/private partnerships for the Underground against the Mayor's wishes and, from what I read, it's a policy that has been disastrous in many respects.
Ken wanted to prevent Trevor Phillips becoming the head of the new Equalities Commission. I'm not sure of Ken's reasons for this but I rather wish he'd succeeded because I find it extraordinary that a man who buys a private education for his children is made responsible for equality of treatment. It's not quite on a par with King Herod being made Minister for Children but it's not far off.
I seem to remember that when Ken (as Leader of the GLC) had the Thames Barrier built back in the 1980s, it was widely criticised as an expensive folly. Few thanked him when the Barrier protected London from the recent storm surge. Flawed he may be, but Ken is one of the few politicians prepared to think long-term and take expensive, controversial yet prescient decisions.
I trust that, in the interests of balance, the Dispatches team are working on a programme about Boris Johnson. They'd be mining a much richer seam of material.
Boris was sacked by Michael Howard not for having an extra-marital affair but for lying to him about it. Howard concluded he couldn't work with a collaegue who told bare-faced lies to his face.
Leaving aside the extra-marital shenanigans and the ramblings about 'piccaninnies', 'cannibals' and suchlike, it was Boris who supplied the name and address of a journalist to a fellow old Etonian and crook so the latter could have the journalist beaten up. Boris defended this on the grounds that he thought the attack would involve no more than a few broken ribs. I've put no "allegedly" there because it's on the public record and has been printed in several newspapers with the presumed approval of said newspapers' learned friends.
Whether or not Boris beats Ken in the Mayoral election, I have no doubt that David Cameron will rue the day he supported Boris's candidacy. And if Boris does win, there'll soon be cries of 'come back, Ken, all is forgiven'. Except from Ken's enemies on the left, for their hatred of Ken is so visceral and irrational that they'd rather see a bumbling, bigoted, Old Etonian clown make London a laughing stock throughout the world.