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Picking the scab - B. Henderson Asher's Moments of Mirth [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Listen in, listen Ian!

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Picking the scab [May. 6th, 2008|01:09 pm]
Listen in, listen Ian!
You see, I can understand "I can't vote for Ken because of supposed anti-semitism/corruption/dodgy friends/generally unsavoury behaviour". I don't necessarily agree with it, but I can understand it. What I don't then understand is how that can possibly translate to a vote for Boris, who has just as many black marks to his name. For every Lee Jasper, there's a Darius Guppy. For every remark about concentrations camp guards, there are picaninnies with their water-melon smiles. For every refusal to fund Gay World Cups, there are comments about a man marrying a dog. To give a vote to neither of them is an entirely reasonable position to hold, but if one's being as pragmatic as most people were, and holding their nose and acknowledging that it was realistically Ken v Boris, I don't understand how you could get that far and still vote Boris. I haven't heard anyone say "No, I don't want reduced bus fares." or "No, I don't want increased service frequency on the London Overground since TfL took it over." I don't understand what they do want though.

[User Picture]From: spoonrefuter
2008-05-06 12:19 pm (UTC)
As far as I can surmise, it's a "we-want-change" vote; not a vote FOR Boris, but a vote for NOT Ken - boosted by the Standard's amazing Ken-eats-babies mudslinging. Much as it horrifies me, I feel "people" still think of Boris as an old-school cheerful muddle-headed Tory. I suspect they are entertained by his gaffes, and maybe even count them as a positive.

There's no accounting for people.

Bugger, I've just bitten off a tine off of my plastic fork.
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[User Picture]From: eyekiller
2008-05-06 01:49 pm (UTC)
It's a bit of the we want change but, in spite of Ken claiming he lost the election and not Labour, I think Labour didn't help him at all. People are getting all frothy about this so called credit crisis and the housing market and I think the timing was very bad, and whether he makes the labour logo on his election stuff tiny so you can't see it, Ken rejoined the Labour party and is One Of Them.
I just voted green across the board and didn't use my second mayoral vote cos it was either that or spoil my ballot paper.

I bet it makes almost no difference anyway. The tories will keep BoJo on a short leash. Shame about the slapping of the 4x4s though.
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[User Picture]From: ruudboy
2008-05-06 05:11 pm (UTC)
didn't use my second mayoral vote

Tsk. It's your fault then.

But yeah, I don't really understand why he ever rejoined the Labour Party. What were they going to do if he didn't, it's not as if they've got anyone good to put up instead is it?
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[User Picture]From: zagreb2
2008-05-06 07:40 pm (UTC)
I don't really understand why he ever rejoined the Labour Party

He never wanted to leave it; Ken always said he hated having to run as an independent but needs must etc. He was always keen to rejoin as soon as they'd let him. He's always seemed very much a Labour loyalist despite his frequent fall-outs with various leaderships.

I have to say I agree with Ken's assessment that it wasn't anyone else's fault too. Despite him being a Labour man Ken was always more than just the Labour candidate and he's not really connected to the current Labour government's policies. Boris probably got in on a mixture of a desire for change and the "lol BoJo will be a funnee mayor!!" element.
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[User Picture]From: braisedbywolves
2008-05-06 12:31 pm (UTC)
Also also (haha this is the definition of refusing to lose the battle) it is kind of amazing that Ken's anti-semitism has resulted in precisely zero actual anti-semitic legislation/initiatives/council subsidies for sewing a yellow star onto your jacket. Over 8 years, and given people's complaints about using London as his personal fiefdom, he's kept kind of quiet in an official capacity.

The things that gets me, and would still be getting me even if Ken had won, is the two-partyness of the other votes, where people go "I really don't like Labour, oh well, better vote for the Tories again". I think that's the fatal factor here.
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[User Picture]From: freakytigger
2008-05-06 01:55 pm (UTC)
More people voted for Ken this time than last. So it's not generally a case of switching, it's a case of Boris being better able to mobilise Ken-haters (or Boris-lovers) to get off their arses than Stephen Norris was.
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[User Picture]From: argyraspid
2008-05-06 03:21 pm (UTC)
Ah well, that's electioneering in an era when people don't like politics. It ceases to be about what people really offer or don't offer, but rather a case of distraction about issues that really don't matter so much.

Boris probably won't be an utter disaster. It's easy to be pretty rubbish or clueless when you can't do something, but once you've got power you have to behave. The Tories will have party sheepdogs all around their mayor to corral him into doing things properly, as there's one hell of a chunk of electorate to alienate from voting Conservative if he stuffs up.

Even if he does mess up, people voted for someone suspected to be floppy-haired buffoon, they can hardly complain if they end up getting a floppy-haired buffoon. At least they may vote with a bit more care next time.
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[User Picture]From: mr_tom
2008-05-06 03:31 pm (UTC)

Join us in the Peoples' Democratic Republic of Stokey!
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[User Picture]From: the_roofdog
2008-05-06 04:17 pm (UTC)
How did that dog hold the spray can?
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[User Picture]From: ruudboy
2008-05-06 05:13 pm (UTC)
Excellent! I'm playing softball in Clissold tomorrow, I'll salute it as I pass.
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[User Picture]From: bengraham
2008-05-07 01:38 pm (UTC)
For me, Ken's anti-semitism was always a big problem. But actually, I see this as a vote for change, and specifically, a vote for a less-interventionist mayor (which is what I believe Boris will be). Ken has dipped too many fingers in too many pies for my liking. He always felt the need to make public proclamations about national or global issues, without relating them to the specifics of London. Why should London's mayor be taking a view on the Middle East peace process or on democracy in South America? That's not why he was originally elected.
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[User Picture]From: argyraspid
2008-05-07 02:27 pm (UTC)
Charges of anti-semitism are trumped-up flim-flam by his enemies. His record of actually doing stuff in office has consistently been one to combat racism and intolerance. Ken has never been caught on record saying anything actually anti-semitic. He has a long history of uncompromising and insensitive attacks on people and organisations he finds objectionable. Some of these have been Jews, but he has never attacked them on the grounds of Jewishness.

As for not commenting on global issues, I think that's a red herring. He's quite free to opine on anything he fancies - you may as well say the home secretary shouldn't comment on the budget on the grounds that national finances are the job of the chancellor. If he were changing policy for no particular reason for something outside London you would have reason to worry. But if he's just saying what he thinks, that's up to him.
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[User Picture]From: bengraham
2008-05-07 02:57 pm (UTC)
Livingstone famously once said that Britain's treatment of the Irish over the last 800 years had been worse than Hitler's treatment of the Jews. If that's not offensive to the Jewish community, I don't know what is.

And telling the Indian-born Reuben brothers that "if they're not happy they can always go back to Iran and see if they can do better under the Ayatollahs"." How about that? Is that not racism?

What about "Ah right, well you might be Jewish, but actually you are just like a concentration camp guard, you are just doing it because you are paid to, aren't you?" His comment to Oliver Finegold is fairly offensive too, I'd have thought. Most anti-semitism is more subtle than attacking individuals on the grounds of their Jewishness, and Livingstone has, over a period of nearly 30 years, made it very clear that he does not like the Jewish community. So for you to call it "trumped up flim-flam" annoys me greatly.

Regarding the other point, yes, the Mayor is free to discuss whatever issues he sees fit to discuss. I'd just rather he did that in his own time, rather than during time paid for by taxpayers' money. Now he's no longer Mayor, he can say whatever the hell he wants, I don't care. But whilst Mayor, he should have focused on London, and not on the wider world.

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[User Picture]From: argyraspid
2008-05-07 04:06 pm (UTC)
Well, Britain did invade Ireland, occasionally massacre them, substantially deny them property rights, persecuted their religion watched in relative disinterest as a million or more starved while grain was exported *out*, and more. You're quite right it wasn't worse than the Holocaust, but it's not quite the total mismatch you might suggest.

Was he racist to the Reuben brothers? Anti-immigration, and even then only mildly. But there's no specific anti-semitism.

Against Finegold, he first mentioned the Germans before he knew the journalist was Jewish. The contextual thrust of his complaint was: "It's nothing to do with you because your paper is a load of scumbags and reactionary bigots... Well, work for a paper that doesn't have a record of supporting fascism." Frankly, if the journalist hadn't been Jewish, no-one would have batted an eyelid.

Let's face it. This the man who called the US Ambassador a "chiselling crook" or something like it, and said he'd celebrate if the Saudi royal family were strung up by their people. He has a long history of handing out offensive - sometimes grossly offensive - comments against people whose politics he hasn't liked.

These are all grossly tenuous accusations, which have been inflated and stripped of context to make an ad hominem attack.
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[User Picture]From: bengraham
2008-05-07 02:59 pm (UTC)
Oh, also, what exactly has he done during his time in office to "combat racism and intolerance" apart from putting his name to other peoples' good ideas and trying to claim credit for them himself?

Edited at 2008-05-07 03:00 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: argyraspid
2008-05-07 04:31 pm (UTC)

Ken Livingstone has been a major public figure for 25 years. His record over that time against prejudice is VAST - speaking at rallies, supporting anti-racism groups, gay rights groups, and women's rights groups.

As mayor, he had a notable anti-racism unit; he set up anti-racism festivals like Rise; he had an anti-racism unit; he battled Islamophobia, even before the London bombings; he initiated the precursor that contributed to the eventual Civil Partnerships law; he's always battled the BNP.

Whether Livingstone originated some of these is irrelevant. He was the man who could choose to do or not do, and he chose to enact anti-racism measures. To strip him of credit on the basis you claim is like saying Brown never ran the economy as chancellor, he just signed off on what economists recommended and civil servants implemented.

He's got one the finest anti-bigotry records of any politician in the whole country. To say otherwise is to be utterly unaware of what he's been doing over the last few decades.
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[User Picture]From: bengraham
2008-05-07 06:13 pm (UTC)
You said in your previous message that "he has a long history of handing out offensive - sometimes grossly offensive - comments against people whose politics he hasn't liked."

How does that fit into "one of the finest anti-bigotry records of any politician in the whole country"?

Maybe I'm being cynical, but I would suggest that his anit-racism drive has been a more recent development in his career, and is largely connected to his need to win over the large Muslim vote in order to maintain his position as Mayor. He's been selective with his anti-racism policies, and that, for me, proves what a fraud he has been.

I should probably add that I'm Jewish, and I can't think of any other mainstream politician, except maybe George Galloway, who has offended myself and my community as frequently as Ken has done.
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[User Picture]From: argyraspid
2008-05-07 10:53 pm (UTC)
It's easy to be offensive and not bigotted. You can simply call someone a c*nt, for instance. His campaign of anti-racism has gone back well before he was mayor - That's the way it is, it's not a new development. And how has he been 'selective'? Who has he not stood up for? Most minorities think he's stood up for them. He's certainly stood up for the Jews when necessary:

'As mayor, I have pressed for police action over anti-semitic attacks at the highest level, and my administration has backed a series of initiatives of importance to the Jewish community, including hosting the Anne Frank exhibition at City Hall and measures to ensure the go-ahead for the north London eruv.'

'Henry Grunwald, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, accepted on these pages that "Ken is sincere when he states that he regards the Holocaust as the worst crime of the last century"'

'Throughout the 1970s, I worked happily with the Board of Deputies in campaigns against the National Front.'

Look, this is going to be insensitive of me, but... I appreciate Livingstone has offended the Jewish community, and I think he should have apologised for the Finegold comment. But suggesting he's anti-semitic and has not been an honest fighter against bigotry of any stripe for decades is just bullshit with no basis in evidence, but with the backing of a lot of hype from Livingstone's political enemies. Sorry.
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[User Picture]From: bengraham
2008-05-07 11:13 pm (UTC)
We'll have to agree to disagree then, because from my point of view, suggesting that he's not anti-semitic, and suggesting that his anti-racism measures are anything other than token gestures aimed at appeasing those groups that he routinely offends is bullshit with no basis in evidence either.

His "campaign of anti-racism" may have gone back long before he was Mayor, but so have the bigotted comments. His opposition to the National Front helped him to win votes in the 1970s from the Hindu and Muslim voters, and his recent anti-racism measures (like organising a music festival... well done him) have served the same purpose. Ken cares for Ken and only Ken, and that has always been the case. I'm so ecstatic that he's gone.
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