Friday, August 19, 2011

Boris & Ken, Churchill & Hitler, Good & Evil

It was with some amusement that His Grace read the latest splutterings of Qu’en Ken Livingstone, accusing Mayor Boris of resembling Hitler while he himself possessed all the righteous virtue of Churchill. His Grace paid a visit to photoshop and discovered that, facially and physically, Ken actually bears rather more resemblance to Adolf than Boris, and that Boris with a cigar makes a rather passable Winston. Readers and communicants may decide for themselves:

The context of the comments? In a Total Politics interview, Ken Livingstone was asked why people should vote for him next year. He joked:
"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… 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 Livingston in 2012. Oh dear, burn forever. Your skin flayed for all eternity.'… I'll come round with a serious pitch nearer the time."
And he also gave his take on the News International relationship with politicians:
"Boris was the News International candidate last time, and he will be this time. That is why he was still defending News International after the Milly Dowler revelations… When Boris and George Osborne are locked in a death throe to succeed Cameron, the Mail will vote for Osborne. The Telegraph will vote for Boris because the Barclay brothers have been grooming him for years, and they want access to a prime minister. So the big media focus is the group in contention – News International. Osborne has been very close to them and Boris needs at least to have them neutral."
He doubts Boris' motivation as mayor:
"I'm coming in with all these ideas, whereas Boris came in and thought, 'Oh, shit, I didn't expect to win this. What am I going to do next?' I think he was horrified (to win)."
And he stresses that he's physically ready for the mayoral fight:
"I've got a low cholesterol level. My doctor says I've got the same heart profile as an Olympic runner. I can't run like a champion athlete, but I can cope with a lot of stress… (My teeth) are shit. That's the weakness."
And so The Daily Mail spouts forth its condemnation, quoting (anonymous) Labour frontbenchers who want Livingstone replaced. And the Mail helpfully includes pictures of ‘Winston Churchill (L) and... Hitler’ (they don’t specify ‘(R)’, but there are only two images, so they trust their readers with a process of elimination). Conservative Gavin Barwell MP said: “Londoners need a mayor who will unite our city, not one who regards people who don't share his views as evil.”

And The Evening Standard carried similar condemnatory splash, quoting ‘a source close to Mr Johnson's campaign’ as saying: "We always knew that Ken was a nasty, divisive character who would fight a dirty campaign but the Labour leader must surely distance himself from these, and similar comments, made in recent times and clarify to Londoners that this is not how his party conducts itself in 21st century democratic politics."

O dear.

It is really quite sad that in order to be a politician one must have a humour bypass. Ken Livingstone obviously spoke in jest, not least because he ascribed to the Angel Gabriel the judgement that belongs to Christ: it is not for mere angels to divide the sheep from the goats and despatch the latter to the everlasting lake of fire. And skin-flaying is actually qur’anic; not biblical. So, theologically, Ken is all over the place and clearly intended his comments to be taken in jest. A further clue may be found in ‘I'll come round with a serious pitch nearer the time’.

Ken made his comments in a spirit of good humour during a light-hearted interview. Boris makes a living out of oral hyperbole: indeed, only a few months ago, amidst a row over housing benefit reforms, he referred to ‘Kosovo-style social cleansing’ in London, after Ken had described Boris’ Chief of Staff Edward Lister as ‘the Ratko Mladic of local government’. Frankly, His Grace thanks God that there are a few political characters still on the stage who aren’t afraid to use humour, hyperbole or colourful language.

Next year’s mayoral battle is not between Churchill and Hitler, and neither is it a struggle between good and evil: it is a democratic contest between a refined Tory reformer who says ‘piffle’, and a fossilised Socialist who says ‘shit’.

There is, quite simply, no competition.


Blogger Manfarang said...

Expect a Love London independent to win.

19 August 2011 at 10:22  
Blogger Jon said...

It would be nice, if, for once, the prospective mayors of London wanted the job to make London better, rather than seeing it as a stage from which to enact (in the case of Boris) an unlikely jump to Tory leader, or in the case of Ken, the furthering of the international socialist cause.

19 August 2011 at 11:07  
Blogger Steve Kneale said...

I quite agree that those using this as a rod with which to beat Mr Livingstone need to develop a sense of humour and indeed a rather more necessary understanding of context. However, I would expect nothing less from the Daily Mail, a paper built on self-righteous ire borne from their wilful ignorance of both context and fact. Whilst I perhaps don't share Your Grace's penchant for the 'Tory reformer who says "piffle"', I do at least concede his willingness to make humorous comment without letting those who ignore the context stop him from doing so is a trait worth admiring. I’m not sure this trait is reason enough to give him the mayoralty but it is the highest accolade I can give the man without disregarding my mother’s advice – if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. I have said my nice thing, I shall proceed no further.

19 August 2011 at 11:37  
Blogger Shacklefree said...

I think that humour in some contexts is fine but in an interview situation it comes close to character assassination and many readers or listeners may believe the lies. To say the choice is between good and evil is really not good enough especially from an experienced politician and reveals his desire to confuse and divide rather than to inform and convince. We need specifics instead of vague anti-religious rhetoric.

19 August 2011 at 12:23  
Blogger Span Ows said...

As I have posted elsewhere, Red Ken said that now at last there was a Labour leader that liked him...knowing how having Miliband minor as 'an ally' is probably not the best thing Ken has decided to force Red Ed to come out and denounce him; only such utter and intentionally polemic bad taste would suffice.

19 August 2011 at 12:24  
Blogger PayDirt said...

In this case I agree with LivingStone, Boris is a Dictator. I have an official notification from The Mayor’s Office that it will be against the law from Jan 2012 for me to drive my vehicle into his empire of Greater London on pain of £X000 fine if caught on camera. The reason? My vehicle is a small van and is more than 10 years old. If he is going to kowtow to the ecofascists, why doesn’t Heil Boris make ALL vehicles over 10 years old prohibited?. Hate to think how many small builders/tradesmen are going to be driven out of London because of these latest Low Emission Zone regulations.

19 August 2011 at 16:52  
Blogger Oswin said...

Old Ken has been working himself up, in his own inimitable, nasty way, for some time now.

He is a decidedly bitter and vicious little tyke who, these days, can barely suppress his self-serving reptilian vileness.

I believe Your Grace is too kind to the man.

19 August 2011 at 17:00  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Your Grace

Rather academic really. Livingstone isn't going to mayor of anywhere again - not after his comments on the riots, and his wish to dis-empower the police.

19 August 2011 at 17:57  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Boris is a buffoon who can't keep it in his pants and who failed to deliver on his congestion charge promise. Livingstone is a slimy, odious creep with a penchant for putting both feet into his mouth. Poor London!

BTW What has Christ got against goats?

20 August 2011 at 06:47  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

The politics of piffle and shit.

I never did have much of an understanding about politics but I always had an inclination thats what it was all about.

20 August 2011 at 07:46  
Blogger len said...

I suppose the short answer to your question is the 'sheep'belong to Christ the 'goats' belong to someone else.
Christ only claims those who belong to Him.

20 August 2011 at 16:21  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Really? I know several farmers who would take serious issue with the livestock ownership thing.

I used to keep a pet goat and I can tell you they are smarter than sheep and possess minds of their own. Jesus preferred the passive and woolly followers? I guess the devil is in the detail...


21 August 2011 at 11:33  
Blogger Oswin said...


''Passive'' ???

Hm, clearly you not too familiar with Blackface, Cheviot, or other mountain breeds!

As you say, the devil is in the detail.

21 August 2011 at 15:14  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Perhaps, but we don't have many mountains south of Cumbria or east of Snowdonia so the passive varieties pervade. Saying that I like the tough little Swaledale sheep myself.

22 August 2011 at 08:00  
Blogger Man with No Name said...


Hope you behave yourself near them. You seem to know a little too detail ...

22 August 2011 at 22:41  
Blogger Man with No Name said...

And you Oswin.

22 August 2011 at 22:42  

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