Monday, January 21, 2008

The Ken programme

Well there was a fair amount of crap in it: most of the material on the congestion charge, the LDA and Chavez struck me as padding, and the drink/Feingold stuff was just smear. And of course we had old foes of Ken, such as Raynsford, lining up to stick the knife in. Also, Martin Bright really shouldn't work as a presenter. He has about as much charisma as a dalek on Mogadon. Still, he did score some real hits. John Ross, Redmond O'Neill, Jude Woodward, Anne Kane and co are deeply unsympathetic characters (special anorak points by the way for those that noticed that an old roneoed set of minutes with their names on also listed "Jane Ashworth (Socialist Organiser)".) The fact that Ken employs them, as a political hit squad, with some of them earning salaries in excess of 120k, is deplorable. If, as alleged, some of them worked for Ken's re-election whilst being paid public funds they should be prosecuted.

That wasn't the only bit that hit home. I happen to think that Ken's position on Al-Qaradawi was within the bounds of the reasonably defensible. Peter Tatchell disagreed with it. He's his own man, and when he spoke of being frozen out for disagreeing with Ken on that issue, he was compelling.

14 Comments:

Blogger Matthew said...

What was the congestion charge angle? that even Kate Winslet has to pay it?

1/21/2008 11:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

when he spoke of being frozen out for disagreeing with Ken on that issue, he was compelling.

We happened to see that segment of the programme (wild horses wouldn't make me watch it all the way through).

Spouse: "That's bad - when Peter Tatchell's criticising you for having a black-and-white view of the world..."
Self: "I don't think he's saying it should be less black-and-white, just that it's black-and-white in the wrong way."

I actually like Tatchell a lot & think he's one of the good guys - more so than Livingstone, who's shown himself to be a political operator first and a socialist second. But I can't say I think Ken's treatment of him post-Qaradawi was surprising or even particularly excessive.

1/21/2008 11:37:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

The congestion charge angle was basically that it has been less effective in reducing congestion than KL claims. Bright's case for this wasn't helped by using a moaning van driver as his main witness, but he was backed up by Tony Travers who usually knows his stuff.

1/22/2008 07:27:00 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Yes, Travers is usually on the ball.

I was looking at data for the number of cars entering C.London at rush hour and that has almost halved since 2000, so if traffic hasn't improved there must be a counter reason. Ken I think was blaming roadworks, which might be right (a section I know well - outside Lords - has been dug up closing one lane every year since 2002 when I started cycling) or perhaps the fact that there has been more buses. But if the latter you really need to compare average speeds and numbers of people entering London, something I'm sure Travers would have done.

1/22/2008 08:41:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

Yeah, but if he wasn't a political operator he'd never get anything done, and he wouldn't have survived as long as he has, especially in a job like London mayor. City politics is always going to be a dirty game, where you have to keep all kinds of powerful, but morally dubious, people on board. As for Livingstone - he's a lot better than any of the plausible alternatives. I mean Boris? WTF.

1/22/2008 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

I can imagine that when Peter Tatchell disagrees with you, he's pretty unpleasant to be around. What Tatchell calls being frozen out, might simply be not wanting to see any more of the ranting monomaniac.

1/22/2008 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

City politics is always going to be a dirty game, where you have to keep all kinds of powerful, but morally dubious, people on board.

Sorry, but this would excuse all kinds of dubious stuff. (See Dame Shirley Porter, passim.) Besides, it beats me what the real benefit of Ross, O'Neill and Co to Livingstone is.

1/22/2008 01:57:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

The same benefit that Blair got from his similar entourage - he doesn't have to go to a Party he doesn't trust for aides or ideas.

1/22/2008 05:29:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Well speaking from personal experience of the characters in question, I can say that if those are the people he trusts, he really does have problems.

1/22/2008 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Speaking as a cat-lover I can say that if it's people he trusts then I quite agree...

1/22/2008 07:55:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

I wasn't think of his immediate entourage, but some of the other people he associates with (Jaspers, for example). I wouldn't say its an excuse, so much as an awareness of the limitations. A lot of politicians get corrupted by it sadly, others went into politics for the corruptions (Porter), or for the fame (Blair).

At the end of the day politics is about getting things done, and to do that you have to get enough of the powerful on board. A politician who wants to do good things (and on balance that probably includes Livingstone), is going to have to associate with some pretty unsavoury people to do it. Its this insistence that progressive politicians have to be (ineffective) saints that Harry's Place go in for that pisses me off. Well that and their belief that somewhere like Lebanon is a liberal democracy rather than a rigged, confessional confederacy.

1/22/2008 09:00:00 PM  
Anonymous rioja kid said...

"Its this insistence that progressive politicians have to be (ineffective) saints that Harry's Place go in for that pisses me off."

yeah, that's a basic Decent principle: the left should have a monopoly of virtue and the right a monopoly of power.

1/23/2008 06:12:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Well don't get me wrong, I'm all in favour of compromise and pragmatism, and some of that involves "associating with unsavoury people". But I'm not at all clear how handing out sinecures to your mates at 120k each counts as the sort of compromise that's needed to advance the public good and social justice.

1/24/2008 10:22:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

CC: Yeah I'm against that, should ave been clearer.

But a lot of the other accusations against Ken are basically that he associates with unsavoury people who happen to be powerful in London. Well yeah...

1/24/2008 04:49:00 PM  

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