Livingstone, Hitler & the art of the gaffe 

Having your integrity supported by seemingly only George Galloway does not look like it will play out well for the beleaguered Ken Livingstone. If you read the full transcript of what he actually said and take it all out of the context of when he said it, then you may well say he was making a reasoned argument for balance. I wouldn’t but some might. Place however what he said in the context of why he was saying it, namely in trying to support Naz Shah after Facebook entries emerged with some pretty extreme views on Israel, and you begin to understand why he is very much on extremely dodgy ground. 

Of course Ken Livingstone, like Boris Johnson, is one of life’s great survivors and you would be silly to assume this could take him out of politics. I welcome our democracy and open debate and that cannot mean that I can choose to gag the likes of Livingstone and Johnson unless their words were so extreme that they incited violence and here’s the rub. In the middle of a debate over Ken agreeing that what the Bradford West MP said was wrong, he goes on to talk about the Jews and Hitler. For the most highly experienced of politicians Ken Livingstone knew exactly what he was saying. This was no gaffe. That he did this knowing that his friend Jeremy Corbyn had brought him back into the fold is pretty staggering and very dangerous. 

Now Mr Corbyn and his judgement is very much being called into question again with various appointments spectacularly blowing up in his face and yet we should pause here. Jeremy Corbyn is a fresh voice at the top of our political tree causing us to have real choice between parties rather than the grey politics we had. I welcome that. Also the new Labour leader’s appointments are in some cases ‘out there’ but again some are going very well. There is also open debate in the shadow cabinet meaning there appears to be a more ‘honest’ approach to those who elected them. It’s not, despite what the right wing papers tell us, all so wrong! 

The Labour parties problems though are clear when you look at Shah and Livingstone this week but before you right wingers start rubbing your hands in glee, take the time to read Boris Johnson’s appalling Spectator article in 2004. People in glass houses…

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