Monday, 26 July 2010

Ken Livingstone, LBC Radio's candidate for Mayor?

Why does LBC Radio, supposedly impartial, give Ken Livingstone his own show on Saturdays? I ask because he is now, as you will know unless you've been living under a rock, a candidate for the Labour nomination for Mayor of London. Given the current deep unpopularity of the LibDems and the likely cuts-driven unpopularity of the Tories come the date of the election in 2012, that means the Labour candidate is at least a fair bet to become Mayor and to have an impact on all our lives.

Surely giving one candidate, and no other, hours of air time every week (he doesn't just appear on his own show but chips in on other shows too) is in breach of any semblance of impartiality?

If you've ever listened to Ken's shows, as I have driving the brood back from swimming on numerous occasions, you'll know that in between interviews listeners are treated to a cornucopia of recollections of what he did when Mayor and how great those achievements were. It's a bit like Teachings by Great Leader Kim Il Livingstone. My personal favourite, as I sat on the M4 in a traffic jam going nowhere, was Ken telling his listeners how he was proud to have introduced the bus lane on that motorway and didn't much care what the motorists thought.

But I want to know why LBC doesn't offer other candidates vying to be our Mayor anywhere near as much exposure. What about Oona King? And the LibDem candidate/s? I wonder if even Boris gets as much air time!

As he handed a petition in to City Hall about police numbers at night last week, which I am sure was entirely unconnected to his Mayoral campaign, Ken declared about himself "“I'm an ordinary Londoner, I'm just an unemployed pensioner who cares about my city.”

The thing is, Ken, that's wrong. You're a political candidate vying for public office. And wrong LBC, it's time to either admit you want Ken elected in which case you should start apeing Veronica Wadley's Evening Boris Standard and at least be honest about it OR perhaps start to cover these elections with a bit more balance. Which is it to be?

There, that's off me chest.

1700 UPDATE: A mole at LBC tells me that they have taken the decision to keep Ken's show even if he wins the Labour nomination! So you would have a political candidate with a London wide show that no other candidate has. How can LBC justify that? The plot thickens..


  1. "Why does LBC Radio, supposedly impartial"

    Eh? They have Nick Ferrari and James Whale, you know. Look up what the latter did in 2008. If anything LBC is biased to the *right* and Ken is providing balance.

    "Ken telling his listeners how he was proud to have introduced the bus lane on that motorway and didn't much care what the motorists thought. "

    He didn't, TfL don't have control over motorways, which is why the West Cross Route and Westway were downgraded to A roads on TfL's formation. Mind you, if I'd invented the M4 bus lane I'd be very proud of it, mainly because it's so wonderfully misunderstood by motorists (look up the explanation of *why* it's a good idea on CBRD).

    "I wonder if even Boris gets as much air time! "

    If Boris was willing to be interviewed by someone other than Vanessa Feltz or Nick Ferrari this would be a valid criticism - however I know for a fact he won't be interviewed by, say, the BBC's Tim Donovan due to personal animosity and Ken has gleefully been inviting him to have his say for a couple of years, to no effect. On which note I presume you heard Ken interview Andrew Gilligan on Saturday, where 'animosity' is rather a mild way of describing their relationship.

    Mind you, I'd be surprised if Ken's show continued if/when he's confirmed as the Labour candidate - he currently isn't, of course.

  2. all valid points Tom, and I've provoked some fairly irate reactions judging by the emails I've just come back to (all from Labour leaning people) but the fact remains that Ken is a candidate in an election - not the only candidate either - and yet a London radio station is giving him muchos exclusivos air time. James Whale and Nick Ferrari, as odious as they are, are not.

    So however much we might want to see Boris cycle off into the sunset, surely that's not right?

  3. This would be valid if political bias in the media didnt exist - I dont know whether you followed the 2008 mayoral election but the evening standard was pretty much the "Boris for Mayor" campaign for about 6 months - imagine that - daily billboards and articles on every street corner for a Tory candidate at the gift of Fleet Street! Who would have thought it? Its a bit taking the splinter out of the eye and ignoring the log in the other to make this kind of complaint....

  4. Anon, 2 wrongs don't make a right.

    Media bias is everywhere, journos are usually left wing as it is, but the point still sticks - we have a mayoral candidate on the air and others who don't have this access. If it was the other way, pro Ken elements would be saying this is a conspiracy.

    Ken already has a overinflated opinion of himself....

  5. If Jounos are usually left wing - how many tory papers are there and how many Left Wing?