Monday, April 14, 2008


One of the last rallying points for the dwindling band of true believers in the Livingstone campaign is the idea that Boris would be a hopeless mayor. The example they use is who you would rather have as mayor if there were another terrorist attack on London, or as Charlie Brooker puts it:
If butterfingers Johnson gets in, it'll clearly be a laugh riot from beginning to end, like a series of Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em in which Frank Spencer becomes mayor by mistake. Just picture him on live TV, appealing for calm after a terrorist bombing - the scope for chuckles is almost limitless.
Now obviously the political opinions of Charlie Brooker have no significance whatsoever, after all, as he says I'm genetically predisposed to hate the Tories. It's my default, hard-wired position. There's not much room for rational argument there. But this is an argument that's now used a lot: Livingstone was statesmanlike and magisterial, Boris would be a buffoon. Well, the second half of that statement is going to be a matter of opinion - I have no doubt that Boris would be thoroughly competent in that scenario. The first half still annoys me. I remember July 7 2005 rather well - my wife was getting the tube from Edgware Road to Liverpool Street, and was just past King's Cross when the bombs went off. It all felt a bit personal. And what was Livingstone's response?
I want to say one thing specifically to the world today. This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It was not aimed at Presidents or Prime Ministers. It was aimed at ordinary, working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young and old.
Two things instantly grated on me: would it have been OK if it had been directed against the mighty and powerful? And why was an attack on London described as an attack (only) on the working class? Why could Livingstone not abandon his class dialectic even at such a time? Another question now occurs - if this is the benchmark Johnson is to be measured against, how on earth could he fail?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Livingstone is still the communist he always was. He's just got better at hiding it.

10:03 am  
Blogger Tim J said...

I think that's about right - although whether he's a communist or just a perpetually provocative agitator is open to debate

10:11 am  

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