Monday, February 27, 2006

On Ken Livingstone

Ken - well, I'll say this, he delivered on manifesto promises. His personality cult worries me and he is obviously extraordinarily profligate (hordes of staff, free Pravda-like newsletters, new building etc.), but he has taken full advantage of his tenure to make changes to London that most people, by and large, like - the improvement to the buses, for example, has been great. And I hate pigeons too, and I think cars should be restricted in city centres. He has been lucky - London is right now in an economic purple patch, so people can afford council tax rises - but he's played the hand he's been given well. Your thoughts?

Ken – certainly London is doing well at the moment but I am not convinced about how much that it down to him. I think there is still far too much difference between the best areas of London and the worst. Also, he is someone who actively seeks controversy – be it entertaining Islamic Fundamentalists or insulting Jewish people. Now his job is to be Mayor of London but he tries to intervene on a national and international level – and has yet to do or say anything helpful. Also, he does bring his office into disrepute with his comments and, on occasion, brawling. I think of him as similar to Galloway – awkward for the sake of being awkward rather than because of any deep seated beliefs. If you take someone like Tony Benn or Enoch Powell – they are/were also awkward and controversial, but you get the impression it is because of their beliefs rather than an attempt to carve out an identity. I think you could easily replace Ken with someone else and the only tangible difference would be the lack of controversy.

Interestingly, Mayor of London is one of the few elected jobs I would actually want to have.


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