Saturday, 19 January 2008

Ken's Achilles Heel

I will freely admit that I underestimated Ken Livingstone when he was bidding for the London Mayorship in 2000. His congestion charge, even if its impact has lessened over time, was a bold and wise move for a major capital. Some public spaces, such as Trafalgar Square, are the better for having less traffic. Buses are plentiful, though the bendy-buses are a menace at pedestrian crossings. With David Blunkett's help at the Home Office, London policing is largely better, and most crime is down. In many ways, London has regained the civic identity that it had lost when the Greater London Council was launched. But, there are worrying signs that Ken has retained some of his less attractive practices from the GLC days, and has surrounded himself with advisers who could drag him down. And today's report on the Today programme - following a lengthy series of Evening Standard reports (albeit with the overweaning bias of one Andrew Gilligan, whose reputation precedes him) on unsuccessful companies backed with London Development Agency money - that Ken's race adviser Lee Jasper (right) had been trying to use public money to launch a campaign to discredit Trevor Phillips (left) is deeply worrying. This is said to have happened - and the emails read out on the programme sound pretty clear in these matters - when Trevor was in the running to head the new Equality and Human Rights Commission, a job he now holds. Ken should suspend Jasper now and launch an independent investigation into this and other recent allegations about his race adviser. The danger is that if he pretends these are not important issues, he will hand the election to Boris on a plate. And however entertaining Boris may be on Have I Got News For You, I'm with Luke Akehurst in his assessment of what his election would mean for London.

1 comment:

Luke Akehurst said...

Good - glad you're with me.