A question of standards

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We Lib Dems, we hate the Standards Board, right? Got policy to abolish it even. Some of us, notably Islington Council Leader Steve Hitchens and East Yorks Councillor Colleen Gill, have even almost come unstuck by them. We have good reason to be very dubious about their rulings.

So why – the fuck – are Graham Tope and Simon Hughes going along with today’s ruling to suspend Ken Livingstone? It is an absolute bloody outrage. For the record, he didn’t even make an anti-semitic comment. True, it was unbelievably crass and it is bizarre that he chose to not apologise and simply put the whole thing to bed, but that is a matter for the London electorate, but an unelected cabal of busybodies.

Iain Dale could well be right – perhaps Livingstone ought to resign and cause a by-election on this issue. Of course, we’d then fight the campaign on other issues, but if Livingstone went on to humiliate us (in the way that he utterly humiliated Hughes in 2004), that might well be justice.

Livingstone is, to be sure, about the worst kind of Labour politician going – as opportunistic as it gets, plays community against community, seeks to hide behind the autocratic powers granted him by the government and then attacks the GLA for failing to hold him to account – he certainly needs taking down a peg or five. But this ruling threatens every single elected politician in the country. A degree of solidarity is long overdue.

16 thoughts on “A question of standards

  1. Simon’s statement was released in between the *ruling*, which is one thing, and the announcement of the *sentence*, which is another. Simon’s statement was that Ken should apologise for causing offence – it does not comment on the decision to suspend him from office.

  2. Rob F – shouldn’t Simon update his statement, then?

    Agree with James 100%. Livingstone is an @rse of the first order & it was a bloody stupid, indeed offensive, comment. But the Standards Board is an even more pernicious organ than Ken himself, and it’s bloody stupid for us to associate ourselves with anything it does.

  3. Oh, that is such nonsense. Why then has he not subsequently condemned the ruling? For that matter, why did he choose to comment in between the two, knowing that a suspension (and possibly even sacking) was within the panel’s powers? For that matter, why is he even lending the Adjudication Panel credibility at all?

    If he didn’t want to be seen approving of the panel’s sentence he should have kept his big mouth shut.

  4. James, I genuinely don’t know whether you’re aware, but your tone is constantly, unnecessarily, rude. I note that on the one occasion we have met face to face rather than through a computer screen, you weren’t half as, shall we say, forcefully opinionated.

    If you read Simon’s statement it does not endorse or pass any comment on the ruling, OR the standards board. It addresses what the mayor should do. It also makes it clear the statement is issued primarily in his role as a London MP, commenting on the actions of the London mayor.

    So far as I can see Simon reiterated what he has said all along on this – the mayor should apologise. He reiterated those remarks at an appropriate time.

    To take his statement and try and turn it in to an endorsement of the standards board is twisting the facts.

    Today was not about whether there should or should not be a Standards Board – it was about the conduct of Ken Livingstone, and so that is all Simon commented on (from Dorset, where he is campaigning in the leadership election today I might add). In the past, Simon has asked numerous PQs on the standards board but were he to campaign vigorously for its abolition I imagine Sarah Teather might be a bit put-out about him trampling all over her spokespersonship.

  5. Frankly you’re both coming across as rude, which knowing you both, I know you’re not (well, most of the time James ;))

    Makes for fun blog reading, but I’m not sure that either of you are doing your respective leadership candidates any favours with the squabbling…

  6. Get over yourself Rob – this is a weblog, not a tea party. If you can’t stand my robust style then, with all due respect, piss off. 🙂

    Seriously, this is my space not yours and I have absolutely no interest in wasting time by mincing my words.

    As for Simon’s statement, timing is everything, as is omission. He has chosen to make this an issue in the leadership election campaign by adding his views on his campaign website. He has made the decision to make political capital out of Livingstone’s predicament. He has chosen not to qualify his statement by including anything about his opposition to the Standards Board. He has consciously elected to feed the media beast in this way.

    This isn’t a minor detail here. This is the most significant decision made on behalf of the Standards Board ever. To try to hide behind the fact that what Livingstone said was offensive and stupid is beneath contempt.

    A leader would give us clarity, not innuendo.

  7. I must admit that I did think when I read Simon’s comment that it was a bit of a glaring omission that he didn’t take the opportunity to mention, even in passing, that the Standards Board is a travesty of democracy.

    And that’s not meant as any criticism of Simon himself, just that, since the existence of the Standards Board is a far more important issue than whether Red Ken was a bit naughty one night, that was the element of the news story that was uppermost in my mind.

  8. James, I don’t give a shit. I’m not on anyone’s campaign team. If the fact that such a mean, nasty person like me happens to support Chris Huhne puts any spanners off from voting for him, so be it. I can point them in the direction of any number of other foul-mouthed gits supporting the other candidates.

  9. Hmm. I agree entirely with James on this its a travesty of Democracy. It has parallels with the recent BNP prosecution – its turns people who are basically tits into free speech martyrs. A status they don’t deserve.

    I’m not commenting on the Simon thing. The comments seem a little odd but then I’m minful of james views on Simon. But as he says its his blog!

  10. What a pity Mr Livinsgtone didn’t bite his tongue and keep his big mouth shut. He fell straight into the trap which the Rothermere press had set for him.

    I know how irritating some of these reporters can be, and there have been one or two in my own time whom I would have loved to have kicked to pulp. But in public life, you have accept that there is a certain amount of ordure which you simply have to put up with. And the same applies to reporters, who love to dish it, but evidently don’t like taking it.

    Of course Finegold wasn’t “offended”! He had been trying for weeks to get Livingstone riled, and must have been jumping for joy when he succeeded.

    What I find offensive is that Finegold seems to think that he is entitled to special treatment on account of his religion.

    Calling someone a “concentration camp guard” is so hyperbolic as to be silly, and a mature person would have treated it as such.

    I entirely agree that it is for the electorate, not an unelected disciplinary panel, to remove Livinsgstone from office.

  11. My reading of the post on Simon’s campaign blog the first time around was “I agree with the Standards Board decision”, reading it again it still comes across the same.

  12. I think Simon’s still trying to prove to me why he shouldn’t have been my 2nd preference – all a little bit too late really. As James says, a bizarre line to take.

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