Thursday, 1 May 2008
The Big London mistake
How Ken Livingstone and even the Labour party must have smiled back in September 2007 when they saw the opposition's choices for London Mayor. A likable celebrity buffoon, prone to horrendous gaffes, Boris Johnson was likely to demonstrate just how little the Conservatives considered their chances of winning London.
Pick a joke candidate, sincere, intelligent, but hopeless, and have fun taunting the mayor on buses or parking or budgets until Ken is re-elected.
Brian Paddick. A homosexual policeman. What could be better if you consider Ken needs the ethnic and immigrant votes. Plus his stance on legalising drugs will drive some family middle class the Mayor's way. No matter if he is sound and has sensible things to say, like Boris Johnson, the political damage is done as soon as he stands for office.
If Ken was allowed to choose his opponents himself he would have chosen Brian and Boris.
So, rather like Gordon Brown, Ken must be wondering what has happened to his fortunes. and how they turned so swiftly. Well, the reasons are similar.
Large Tax rises..
Big claims made for improvements..
Failure of delivery..
Bereft of new ideas...
8 years of making promises that have yet to be seen to be delivered on is a hard task.But Mr Livingstone is a very shrewd political operator, and it shouldn't have been beyond him.
One of the things Mr Livingstone must reflect on while waiting for the votes to come in, will surely be his lack of care with the London Media.
The Evening Standard, circulation of some 250,000 is a widely read daily paper.Making an enemy of Andrew Gilligan over the paper's investigation into improper use of public funds by the Mayor's office, was surely one of the greatest miscalculations the Mayor has made.
The original response to the Lee Jasper stories was that Mr Gilligans evidence cannot be relied upon [re Hutton] and insinuated he was politically motivated and racist.
That, plus a refusal to even consider that there was any wrong doing on his part caused great damage later on when Lee Jasper resigned rather quickly. The investigation into corruption continues.
With an election on the horizon why didn't the mayor at least try to keep the media onside. The London Media too! Where do the journalists live Ken? Had you forgotten?
By just agreeing to the proverbial 'review of policy and tougher safeguards in the future' it would surely have eased his predicament. Maybe even persuaded some that he was a decisive leader, quick to act and would have no hesitation in tackling corruption from any source.
It sort of worked for Gordon Brown over the David Abrahams donation scandal. Few really blamed him directly for it and others fell while he remained.The Labour party rather than the leader took the hit. Livingstone could have tried the same tack.
For some reason, maybe a dislike of the Standard and a liking for Lee Jasper, the mayor's political instinct seemed to desert him and he made an enemy of London's leading newspaper.
Mr Brown would rather hug Vince Cable than upset The Sun.
However it turns out on election day he must rue on the fact that it could have gone a lot easier.
Posted by CityUnslicker