Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Anyone listening to the BBC earlier will have heard Ken Livingstone taking a defiant stand against his suspension as Mayor of London, essentially defending his right to offend.

Despite the distasteful nature of his remarks and the fact that he used to work as a restaurant critic for the paper he claims to despise so much, it's a compelling argument and one High Court Judge seems to agree, granting him a reprieve pending his appeal:
Ken Livingstone was due to be suspended from Wednesday, after being found to have brought his office into disrepute with his comments to a reporter.

Earlier he said he would fight the "attack on the democratic rights of Londoners" through the courts.

He said his remark, comparing a Jewish reporter to a concentration camp guard, had been "blown out of all proportion".

He has been granted a judicial review of the decision by an adjudication panel of the Standards Board for England, which he said had "profound constitutional implications".

The High Court judge ruled he was entitled to have the controversial sanction put on hold, while his appeals.

Earlier Mr Livingstone said he would consider taking the case to the Court of Appeal and the Law Lords if he lost, even though it could end up costing him "a couple of hundred thousand pounds".

And he said he would not be apologising to the Evening Standard journalist Oliver Finegold, as it would be an insincere apology.
"I believe what I said was right. I said it to many journalists. No one has ever complained before," said Mr Livingstone.
This is where Ken's defence starts to fall down. He's said it to many journalists? Who, when and why? Would they care to step forward? Whether or not anyone's complained before is irrelevant. But here comes the big one.

Having just given a persuasive argument defending his right to free speech, he blew it with this:
Mr Livingstone told a news conference on Tuesday the Board of Deputies made the complaint because of his views on the Israeli Government.
He really ought to learn when to shut up. Who's his PR advisor - George Galloway?

Although the BBC doesn't provide a transcript, using three examples he dropped the cliched allegation that "Anyone who criticises Israel is labelled as an antisemite" (or "anti-sea-mite", as Ken prefers to say) which is frankly untrue.

Given his claims that he's used his "concentration camp guard" line on several journalists, one could argue equally well that "Anyone who criticises Ken is labelled as a Nazi," which is also untrue. Sadly, the former appears to be some form of received wisdom for many on the Left today.

After he'd finished playing the "I'm a victim of the evil Zionists" card he came up with another classic:
Mr Livingstone said any implication that he had been anti-Semitic was unjust, because had fought an unrelenting war on racism as mayor.
Exactly how does cosying up to the publicly antisemitic Sheik Yousef Al-Qawadari fit into his unrelenting "war on racism"?


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