Mayor The Present Rest In Peace…

Okay, not a good title pun. So let me clarify: I voted Ken Livingstone without hesitation (in fact I seem to be one of the rare ones who voted Labour on all 3 ballot papers) and I’m not happy that he lost.

But that’s democracy; the majority chose Boris, so it’s Boris we have. And I hope we’re not sorry. At least I’ll take no responsibility if we are.

The first time I voted for Ken was around about the first time I started blogging, almost exactly 4yrs ago. I didn’t vote Ken in the first time because I didn’t know I could…I waited for a ballot card which never came, and which didn’t even come this year. But it didn’t matter as we all knew Ken would win. It was the return of the king to his throne after Thatcher dismantled the GLC.

Ken Livingstone is an amazing politician and I think we’ll feel his absence as mayor and weep (unless Boris does good, and I hope so). Controversial yes, the best ones usually are. You know what you’ll get with Ken, he doesn’t mull his words and doesn’t care if you like them or not. On the other hand he’s also as loveable a character as Teddy Boris – but nowhere as seemingly bumbling.

I met Ken as an 80’s child with my mother, just outside my house, and he placed a GLC sticker on my chest (“Keep London Great” I think it said). Okay, a sticker 20 odd years ago isn’t a good bribe, but this is a small example of a man who mingles with the people day in day out, not just at election time.

Many things shot Ken down. General anti-Labour feeling, a need to kick someone for variables no govt. can control (credit crunch, food prices), the Congestion Charge – which is a double edge sword in that we care for our environment but it’s killing local businesses – and embarrassing moments like what happened with Lee Jasper or the Jewish reporter (though why you can’t call someone you dislike like a Nazi, whether Jewish or not if you dislike them, is beyond me). And some people just wanted a change after 8yrs. This last part I don’t get; I would keep someone in who’s good whether I know them well or not.

And just to talk outside of Ken, some reasons outside of things like the 10p tax for voting against Brown is because he seems ‘dour’…But we said goodbye to Blair because he ended up a sparkly toothed showman who misled us and delivered short term benefits. Brown is a slow burn, serious politician who’s looking to the long term. I believe that. And I am not saying this as a Labour fan boy. I still believe Labour is a better party than the Conservatives who are still realising potential.
David Cameron humbly accepted that his fortunes weren’t so clearly because of pro-Conservative feeling, and Boris’s win is due to being a cartoon character who offers polar policies to Ken he mightn’t successfully implement.

The worst thing Labour can do is get rid of Brown. If they did – and I hope they do not – only David Miliband would be the saviour of a Big Brother loving electorate. But I do believe, given the chance, Brown will be a respected PM in the long run.

I also hope, whether or not Boris does good, that Ken Livingstone makes a bid again in 2012. Who else is better than Ken? Not only does a win see him back for the Olympics, but at the end of his 3rd term he’ll be about 70. Perhaps a better age to write an autobiography? And perhaps people will be begging for him to come back.

Ken is a forward thinking man. He is quintessentially London and up until now I can only be thankful for his contributions.

To end with though, just a few words about Boris…I hope he’s as smart as he’s entertaining. And I’m also not worried about his presence causing racial disharmony – despite unwanted BNP ‘backing’ and pointers made by the Ken team. Why?

Boris has a Turkish Muslim grandfather and is married to a half Sikh woman. So straight up he can’t be racist, or not universally racist.
Furthermore, if you read the article about “watermelon smiles”, the article (to my memory – can’t be bothered to find a link but you can post a comment or email to correct) was a fictional third person quotation. He was saying something along of lines of blacks seeming that way to a superior Tony Blair, i.e. it was a hyperbolic joke of Blair’s viewpoint. The article about Islamophobia (again it’s midnight and can’t be bothered finding the article) was written with a bit of humour that is hard to pick up on read (red), rather than heard, text. It simply suggests that a certain contingent of Muslims refrain from over-reactive behaviour. I got it, even though I’m not the contingent he refers to.

That doesn’t mean to say I’m right and there are other alarming things (see his Darius Guppy association), but I don’t think he’s racist or even properly homophobic. He just has a sense of humour that’s a little bit Prince Phillip. And if he is, racist and/or homophobic, he will – as he promised to himself, either seriously or in jest – learn to shake off this baggage as you can’t run a technicolour city in black and white hands. It’ll be his lead role in ‘English History X’. And it’ll also show the BNP that although they can dress fascism in democracy, democracy itself will pull them down with change of season.

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