More about the soon-to-be-suspended Mayor

As an update to my last piece in Ephems with some new material that reinforces my earlier view of the matter, I have posted the following ‘comment’ on Tim Worstall’s sensible and balanced post about the affair of Our Ken, the Evening Standard and the Board of Deputies of British Jews: 

Just want to register complete agreement about the utterly unacceptable and ill-judged ‘decision’ to suspend our capital city’s elected mayor. I have set out my views at greater length at and shan’t repeat them here, except to mention that the full text of the decision of the Adjudication Panel for England is available (pdf) at, and a very sad and unconvincing read it is. The tribunal makes unsupported assertions about the supposed offensiveness and insensitivity of Ken Livingstone’s remarks to the Evening Standard reporter, without any sign of recognising or allowing for the circumstances of the encounter; priggishly rebukes the Mayor for setting out his legal arguments at length and for refusing to apologise for offending the reporter;  accepts that the case should never have got as far as the Panel (thus implicitly acknowledging the essential triviality of the whole affair);  but blames Livingstone for having let it do so, and proceeds to impose a swingeing penalty out of all proportion to the significance of the supposed offence as assessed by the Tribunal itself.

The tone of the whole document is that of an exceptionally prim housemaster at a minor public school. The Tribunal notes that the government has accepted that the paragraph of the Code of Conduct under which they have ‘convicted’ the mayor is unsatisfactory and that it needs to be amended in such a way as to remove from its scope the kind of conduct that has led to the complaint against the Mayor — meaning that if the proposed amendment had been made, there would have been no case for the Mayor to answer — but they clearly ignore the implication of that in deciding on the severity of the penalty they impose. If the High Court doesn’t allow the Mayor’s probable appeal on the grounds that the complaint against him was vexatious and frivolous, or at the worst substitute a token penalty such as the ‘reprimand’ recommended by the referring Standards Board, I shall really have to consider emigrating. That will show ’em!


3 Responses

  1. Elected politicians are ultimately accountable to their electorate for the views they express and the policies they espouse.  The remarks that Livingstone made may have been offensive but were not illegal and therefore the appropriate course of action would have been for the opposing politicians to have reminded the electorate, at the next election, of his actions and for the electorate to vote accordingly.

    Brian writes:  Amen to that wonderfully succinct and definitive summary of the argument. 

  2. Brian says:

    A comment by ‘John’ posted in the blog Harry’s Place and reproduced with approval by ‘Brighton Regency‘  seems to me to merit even wider dissemination, since it hits several nails squarely on the head.  John states with special cogency the case for the mayor to continue to refuse to ‘apologise’, despite this being apparently his most culpable offence in the eyes of the tribunal.  John wrote:  

    It seems to me that what Livingstone said (or perhaps tried to say) was clumsy, inarticulate, and careless but it was still an attempt at a perfectly valid argument. He was attacking the reporter for (in Ken’s view) harassing guests at a gay function. The reporter responded "I am doing my job". Ken pointed out that this was the defence of concentration camp guards (ie it is not a defence to say "I am doing my job").

    Assuming the journalist was not harrassing him, but merely following him down the street at midnight asking innocuous questions, then a simple "f* off, and stop being such a f*ing c*", would have been the appropriate response. Everyone would have got what they wanted: the journo would have baited Ken to say something that his prudish readers would find "shameful", and Ken would have looked "right hard" to his supporters.  I have to completely agree (for a change) with that right-wing BJ, when he said: "I do not normally side with Red Ken, but on this occasion I say, Ken, whatever you do, don’t apologise.  Tell the papers to take a running jump, and tell Blair to join them.

    There are all sorts of reasons why this advice is sound, and I speak as one who has been caught up in the modern mania for apology.  The first is that any apology, as Ken has made clear, would be completely insincere; and the second is that it would be a surrender to media bullying. If you look at the offending transcript, it is clear that Ken was crass in his comments about camps and security guards; and it may be that elsewhere Ken has said things that border on anti-Semitism, but these words are not in themselves anti-Semitic.  We must keep that in the front of our minds, and ring-fence it with iron bars of logic.  I can think of plenty of things for which I would like Newtzilla to apologise – the £900 annual cost of the congestion charge for families dropping their kids at school; his evil bendy frankfurter buses, which are a menace to cyclists; his cheerleading for anti-Semitic Muslim clerics such as al-Qaradawi, who supports suicide bombers and the beating of women; the fact that the escalator at Highbury Corner has been unmended for so many months, as if no one at Transport for London could afford a screwdriver from the astonishing sums we pay them in Tube fares.  Yes, there are all sorts of crimes for which Ken should grovel, but I think it would be an utter disaster if he came anywhere close to grovelling to the Evening Standard.  

    We have a cult of victimhood in this country, in which the complainants are often not the victims themselves, but self-appointed priests of the cult of victimhood, who believe it is up to them to decide when offence has been given. And we have powerful newspapers that like to find some offence, and then screech their imprecations until the so-called offender has apologised.

  3. Carl Lundquist says:

    As the old Texas expression goes:  Myself.  
    As a middling American right winger, I am astounded that such a thing could go down.   An elected official should be responsible to his voters, not some bureaucrat board.  Ken may not be my cup of tea if I were a London elector, but the basic rules of democracy says that only an election or a judge and jury in felony trial should remove him. 
    To remove him for ‘bad taste’ smacks of someone doing a job on ol’Ken from behind the scenes.  As I remember dear old Maggie did a job on him once before, but at least she had courage to do it out in public and take the heat for it herself.