Thursday, 18 August 2011

Ken Livingstone attacked for "Hitler" jibe - made in Shepherd's Bush

Boris Johnson is "Hitler" and Ken Livingstone is being attacked today for comments he made to me at the Pie n Mash shop on Goldhawk Road, as he visited Shepherd's Bush Market recently. When I saw the quote from Tory Blog Conservative Home I thought two things - what an idiot, but also 'hang on that sounds familiar'.

Indeed it was - he said it to me in response to a question I asked him - not Amber Elliot of Total Politics, who was at the table, also recording the interview. I didn't report it at the time because it was so blatantly obvious he was joking - I laughed, so did Amber and so did Jo his press man who was busily fretting about getting Ken to the next campaign stop on the West Kensington Estate. Oh, and I can prove it was my question because I recorded it. I instead wrote up the interview on the substance that we talked about - Shepherd's Bush Market and the fate of the Goldhawk Shops that our Council want to allow developers Orion to knock down.

So I write this to put the quote into context because it looks like Total Politics are making this one of the headlines of their piece on Ken. And if they are, I for one think it's very sad. 

I say that as someone who doesn't particularly warm to Ken, a man who ignored the overwhelming wishes of West Londoners and imposed the western extension of the congestion charge on us. But for goodness sakes, the Mayor is actually quite an important job in politics, and for a magazine that calls itself "Total Politics" it is rather letting itself and the rest of us down by cheapening the debate in this way. Surely he said other things that are worth reporting as the headline, from the time Total Politics spent shadowing him?

It was a joke Amber, so why put that at the top of your article? Get over it!

1330 UPDATE - Ross Lydall, Chief News Correspondent for the Evening Standard, has been in touch. They are splashing today on these comments, but their articles were written before they saw the context in which they were made. Mr Lydall is at least tweeting the link to this blog post, giving the 2,000 or so followers of his a chance to see what was really behind them - and poking Total Politics in the eye for describing them as "exclusive"!


  1. I think Ken is cheapening the debate to be honest. It's not atypical of him - and sundry other policitians - to reduce politics to a simple "I'm not the other guy" proposition and not to actually have much of substance to stand on. Particularly as, on the substantive issues - transport, police, etc - their disagreements are one of degree (i.e. the numbers) than anything major. Difficult to blame a journalist for spotting a potential story - and is Ken really so naive as not to realise something said on the record which echoes the last thing he got in big trouble for (stupid and pointless as that was too) was not going to get him useful press column inches leading to appearances on our TV screens everywhere boring everyone?

  2. What does he expect, anyone with half a brain should know that any comparisons bringing up people like that should be completely off limits, joking or otherwise.

  3. Hi there,

    Just to clear a couple of things up, the piece in Total Politics makes it very clear that those specific comments are in jest, and that they were in response to another person's question.

    Full first couple of paragraphs from the piece below:

    Livingstone is not underplaying the importance
    of next year’s mayoral election.
    “It’s a simple choice between good and
    evil – I don’t think it’s been so clear since
    the great struggle between Churchill and Hitler.”

    Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London
    is sitting in a pie-and-mash shop in
    Shepherd’s Bush Market. A small crowd of
    residents has gathered, and one local blogger
    is asking why they should vote for him.

    “The people that don’t vote for me will be
    weighed in the balance, come Judgement Day.
    The Archangel Gabriel will say, ‘You didn’t vote
    for Ken Livingstone in 2012. Oh dear, burn
    forever. Your skin flayed for all eternity...’”
    He pauses: “I’ll come round with a serious pitch nearer the time.” He croaks his signature
    laugh and moves on to the next question.

    Hope that clears it up!

  4. fair enough - your website didnt have these paras when I looked. And as you'll know the way this has been written up has rather overlooked the fact that they were in jest. Is this really where the debate about London's future should be at?

  5. And the depressing thing is that this piece of nonsense is picked up and run-with by the cretins at Total Politics and The Standard as if it's some sort of journalistic gold dust.

    It's the most trivial non-story, and has precisely nothing to do with how London is/should be governed. Or the merits of one candidate over another. Flammed-up beyond all reason, and masquerading as a story.

    Ken and Boris are both experts at saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Woo-f*cking-hoo. You amaze me, Ms Total Politics. I'm truly in awe of your journalistic acumen.

    No wonder you work for a tuppeny-ha'penny outfit like TP. (Lining the cat boxes of 23,000 MPs and local councillors - who get it for free - as we speak)

    And I'd expect more from The Standard. The phone call from the hack there clearly indicates that the paper didn't attempt to stand the story up before they printed it. "Their articles were written before they saw the context in which they were made" is a very tidy way of performing a journalistic reverse-ferret. The article shouldn't have been published UNTIL they knew the context in which the remarks were made.

    A pretty sorry scene, frankly.

  6. Effing disgraceful.