Boris Johnson is clearly the highest profile of the the Conservative Mayoral hopefuls. As such he is going to get the larger proportion of sticks and brickbats that are thrown at our line up. Livingstone’s gibe earlier this week was just the first of many attacks by Labour politicians on our team in general and Boris in particular.
What surprises and disappoints me is that someone who I thought highly of has waded into party politics, having said that she wouldn’t. She has every right to comment on political matters but it is the nature and timing of her intervention that disappoints me most.
The comments that Doreen Lawrence made about Boris Johnson yesterday are deeply unfair. She implies an attitude towards the Macpherson report which is just not born out by the facts, her words are clearly designed to taint Boris with a whiff of racism and to claim that “there is no way he is going to get the support of any people in the black community” is ridiculous.
That she used exactly the same phases as elements of Livingstone’s recent remarks and mirrors his line of attack reduces the credibility of her comments even further. She didn’t criticise Boris at the time he wrote the articles, she didn’t criticise him when he became an MP, she didn’t criticise him when he was promoted to the shadow front bench, she didn’t even say anything when he put himself forward to be our candidate. So why now?
Her intervention has given a few of Labour’s usual suspects the green light to fling around allegations of racism too. It saddens me to see Dawn Butler and Diane Abbott using the racist label when they both know it not to be true. The article they use to prove his “racism” was clearly written in an Alf Garnettesque style to parody the patronising, racist attitude that he is being accused of. Even the Guardian conceded that the phrase was used “presumably for stylistic effect”.
I look at my own two boys and try to imagine the pain that Doreen Lawrence must have felt in losing her son. I have great admiration for the campaigning work that she has done over the last decade and a half and I can even imagine that she has grown to like and respect the current mayor. None of these things justify the deeply unfair and inaccurate comments about one of our candidates.