Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Anti-Semite defeated by cartoon character

Sat 5 May 2012, 5:00am

Credit to Londoners. Faced with the bigot, they’ve elected the Tory.

For anyone who still considers the leftism defined by internationalism, solidarity and anti-racism as refuge of honor, there’s nothing ironic about welcoming the victory of Tory Boris Johnson. The truth is: the choice could not have been simpler.

The blue corner offered voters a candidate the goofish company of whom holds less appeal than entrapment on the inside of an Underground restroom festooned by a backed-up toilet bowl and an unopenable door knob.

Yet challenging this amadán and making this a ‘surely-not?!’ contest, the so-called red corner offered what?

A dried up old Jew-baiter whose all-too-enthusiastic attempts to buy thirty votes here and there were pursued at the seemingly (to him) knock-down price of slandering a whole group of Londoners in terms of historic, epic shame.

This is a “Labour Man” whose various public statements of bigotry included a pitch that he’d little prospect of Jewish votes since…”the Jewish community is rich, [and therefore] simply wouldn’t vote for him”.

While it’s disturbing – particularly on the back of Galloway’s bi-election embarrassment – that a national Labour figure seemed to have identified latent political capital in such filthy rhetoric, London should take some heart from the rejection of this gargoyle on a night where the temptation for voters to echo and reinforce the national anti-Toryism, anti-austerity mood must have been very tempting indeed.

And let’s note: The seeds of Livingstone’s rejection, defeat and consignment to the dustbin of shame should have generated much more mainstream coverage in the British press than was garnered by the dour, part-predictable, part-impenetrable ramblings of France’s neo-fascist poster girl Le Pen. Whatever else is Jean-Marie  Marine, at least she’s a  fundamentally marginal figure.

A topic for another day.

One can only hope Red Ken gets the pillorying he deserves in the hours ahead. After all, how bigoted, cranky, and out-of-touch must one be to lose to a Tory on this night, in this year and during this administration?!

Ken: You’re done.

London: Well done.

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Comments (15)

  1. Nevin (profile) says:

    “Whatever else is Jean-Marie, at least she’s a fundamentally marginal figure.”

    Jean-Marie is a bloke :)

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  2. Ruarai (profile) says:

    Good catch Nevin! Corrected.

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  3. Pete Baker (profile) says:

    Easier to say now that he’s lost, Ruarai?

    But Ken was the “Labour man”. Selected by the party. Backed by the party leadership, who ignored the bigotry and campaigned on his behalf because they thought he had a chance of winning.

    Which he nearly did.

    “leftism defined by internationalism, solidarity and anti-racism”.

    My ass.

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  4. tuatha (profile) says:

    Pity they didn’t do something worthwhile and choose the Green.

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  5. Catherine Couvert (profile) says:

    ‘Whatever else is Marine, at least she’s a fundamentally marginal figure.’ I wish. Unfortunately, her party’s influence on the French presidential campaigns and on regional and local elections is enormous, not least because the so-called centre right tries to buy voters by adopting some of her themes.

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  6. pauluk (profile) says:

    “My programme is absolutely, avowedly Conservative – with a big ‘c’ or a small ‘c’. It’s about cutting taxes, getting rid of useless government expenditure and focusing on the things that matter.”

    Wish more politicians had these goals. Boris is a big, bubbly character, but definitely a force Labour cannot handle. Conservatives need to get back to basics and abandon their anti-conservative/liberal policies.

    Well done, Boris

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  7. damon (profile) says:

    This ”Ken is an anti-semite” argument is just way too crude and spun. It’s what the Harry’s Place website do and it is rather dishonest.
    http://hurryupharry.org/

    What Livingstone has done is allow himself to be presented way by people who see ”anti-semitism” at every turn. I wouldn’t vote for Livingstone because I don’t like his ”identity politics” – but there’s no need to exaggerate either.

    The very vocal supporters of Israel have helped muddy the waters as to what anti-semitism actually is and what is legitimate criticism of Israel.
    I’ve been accused of being ”Jew obsessed” by one of the moderators of that website myself, as if you write more than a couple of posts taking a contrary view to their’s, you get asked why you care so much about a ”small country in the Middle East.”
    And anti-semitism is what they presume the answer is.

    I’m glad Livingstone lost, but I don’t agree that he’s a bigot.

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  8. Jimmy Sands (profile) says:

    This ”Ken is an anti-semite” argument is just way too crude and spun. It’s what the Harry’s Place website do and it is rather dishonest.

    Absolutely. I genuinely can’t recall a nastier campaign than Johnson’s. Let’s hope it does not become the norm

    Oh and Ruarai are you aware that your “marginal figure” finished third quite handily?

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  9. carlota martinez (profile) says:

    Happily, political discourse in London has not reached the point where candidates in any election must firstly consider how AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) will react to any comments they might make.

    Unortunately, in Washington, where Ruarai resides, the position is quite different. The writ of AIPAC is far reaching and their lobbists are alive to all criticisms of Israel, no matter how mild, and such criticisms are invariably characterised as anti-Semitic.

    To revel in the defeat Ken Livingstone and to characterise it as a defeat of an anti-Semite is simply ludicrous and, quite frankly, it comes as no surprise that it should emanate from someone domiciled in Washington where no criticism of Zionism is permitted.

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  10. There were quite a few amazers going on over the last couple of days:

    ¶ that the London Elects operation managed to cock-up again. How do you lose a couple of ballot-boxes? [Allegedly — was it at Harry Diamond's election in the Falls? — under a couple of tons of nutty slack.]

    ¶ that the margin was quite so tight. Despite weeks of misrepresentation, downright porky-pieing, and relentless Evening Boris propaganda, it came down to 60,000 votes out of 2.2 million. Lynton Crosby ran a campaign that Karl Rove or Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin would instantly recognise. His success is the prevalence of half-truths on which much of the above thread is based.

    ¶ that anyone could get elected on the total absence of any proper manifesto. OK: last time round we had the new Roadmaster, which wasn’t going to cost the taxpayer a penny, and ended up costing £1.2 million apiece. Last time we had the fatuous blaggarding of the bendy-bus (which, allegedly, is back for the Olympics, because it actually does the business). This time BoJo pledged … precisely what? And people voted for just that vapourware.

    ¶ that Brian “Mr Toad” Coleman managed to dynamize the best turn-out and the biggest swing across the GLA. But I’ve got that off my chest elsewhere.

    ¶ And now, here, the depiction of BoJo as a “cartoon character”. He’s not. He’s a highly-successful self-inflationist. Let it be recited, yet again:
    — he wasn’t sacked by Michael Howard for conspiracy to commit GBH on Stuart Collier;
    — nor for looting and theft in Baghdad;
    — nor for racism (“piccaninny” and “watermelon smiles”, anyone?);
    — nor for getting the murder of Ken Bigley and the Hillsborough disaster so horrendously wrong (“vicarious victimhood”);
    — not even for adultery, breach of promise, and inducing Petry Wyatt to abortions (why is such a self-proclaimed intellect unable to grasp the fundamentals of contraception?), but for lying about it.

    ¶ Anyway, a cheery thought to finish: that Jenny Jones and Siobhan Benita beat the odds, and Brian Paddick (all decent, well-meaning and underfunded campaigns) did so appallingly badly.

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  11. Ruarai (profile) says:

    Good grief.

    Damon – “This ”Ken is an anti-semite” argument is just way too crude and spun.”

    Spun? I quoted the guy.

    Damon, of all the crude sentences in my post why side-step the prime exhibit, Livingstone own quote that – …”the Jewish community is rich, [and therefore] simply wouldn’t vote for him”.?

    If anyone can come up with a more five star example of unabashed, proudly screaming anti-Semitism than an election candidate who augmented his photo op embrace of Yusuf Al-Qaradawi with the universally understood and well-trod practice of depicting Jews as a homogeneous group of wealthy opponents, then you’ve probably missed an employment opportunity with Livingstone’s speechwriting team.

    The example I quoted is so egregious, so unambiguous; Livingstone would probably be disturbed that you haven’t recognized it for what it is.

    After all, the only type of public figure in Europe who would dare roll-out that particular slander could only have been someone bent on deliberately raising the anti-Semite’s flag in the hope of rallying the sectors of London’s electorate who also embrace Al-Qaradawi.

    Damon, etc – if you cannot recognize this as bono fide anti-Semitism, you’re lost.

    Waken up.

    Regarding Le Pen: Yes, she polled well but, unlike Livingstone, she is outside the mainstream parties – a fact that made Milliband’s and Labour’s championing of this man all the more despicable.

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  12. Ruarai @ 4:35 pm:

    Spun? I quoted the guy.

    Be honest: you didn’t.

    The source is a letter from a group of Jewish Labour supporters (which include Liberal rabbi Danny Rich and former Limmud chair Andrew Gilbert) to Ed Miliband. The letter was conveniently leaked to the Jewish Chronicle. As represented in that source, the expression went:

    Ken toward the end of the meeting stated that he did not expect the Jewish community to vote Labour as votes for the left are inversely proportional to wealth levels, and suggested that as the Jewish community is rich we simply wouldn’t vote for him.

    Not quite the same thing?

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  13. Ruarai (profile) says:

    Malcolm, quite right, the quote is attributed to Ken. A distinction worth making. Freeland article lists a catalogue of smears and indecencies but this particular one nails it.

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  14. sherdy (profile) says:

    Maybe Miliband’s support was the kiss of death for Red Ken. Could that have been the intention?

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  15. damon (profile) says:

    Ruarai
    ”Good grief.

    Spun? I quoted the guy”.

    I don’t like Livingstone and am glad he lost, but over analysing every last word that a public person speaks can always throw up things which can be taken and spun. Or maybe they did say someting stupid and not well thought out.

    Radio talk show hosts often fall foul to this occupational hazard because they spend so much time talking live on the radio. What these people like the Harry’s Place website do is take these clumsy quotes and run with them shouting that the guy is anti-Semitic – because he said something dodgy.

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