No-one appears to have used that headline yet, which I’m frankly amazed by, so I thought I’d better get in quick.
Overall, this latest incident does rather confirm some of the points I was making last week about the nature of the London Mayor and the GLA. These institutions lack any kind of civic culture, we are struggling to invent one 8 years after the event, and it is a mistake to think that ‘celebrity’ candidates are going to solve the problem.
But what a nasty, undemocratic, bullying idea of the Tories. I’m delighted it appears to have backfired on them. I’m sure they are attempting to spin this as the Lib Dems playing party politics while they are trying to work constructively in the interests of Londoners, but nothing could be further from the truth. As a party we would never be able to recover from being the Conservative’s mini-me. We have a genuine dilemma of who to stand, but the most anonymous face-slapping moron would be preferable to a joint candidate. Far from beating him, an Anyone-But-Ken candidate would be likely to bolster him – one only needs to cast one’s mind back to 2000 to recall that Labour tried that and got bitten in the arse.
Ultimately, there may be only one way of defeating Ken Livingstone: wait until he’s too old to keep going and enjoy the fact that Labour will end up struggling to find a candidate as much as everyone else. In the meantime, old fashioned party (and non-party) politics will have to do. Anyone got a monkey suit? It worked in Hartlepool.