Last week Andrew Gilligan wrote a series of stories alleging the serious misconduct of a senior Livingstone aide. The Mayor released a press statement within a few hours, completely dismissing the article and accusing Gilligan of a racially and politically motivated attack on the wider “black community”.
Livingstone’s response was so swift that he couldn’t have had enough time to look into these allegations. Dismissing hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of pounds worth of lost funds without any investigation should be a cause of alarm to all Londoners. Someone who is unconcerned by the loss of up to two and a half million pounds of public money should not be in charge of London’s budget.
As well as his nonchalant attitude towards wasted tax funded grants, he has shown a disturbing willingness to accuse people of racism. Racism is a serious issue and as such deserves to be dealt with in a mature and rational way, it is easy to accuse someone of racism and almost impossible to prove that you’re not. For this reason it should not be spraying around by people purporting to be serious politicians.
I have worked in publishing for years and in my experience journalists don’t just make up stories, and when the story is of this magnitude they make sure that they have the evidence to back up what they have written. I don’t believe for a minute that Livingstone really thinks Gilligan is a racist, he has played the race card purely as a diversionary tactic because the Standard’s allegations of financial irregularities are coming a little too close to the Mayor’s door.
Livingstone could end all of this quickly and easily. If he called in independent auditors, opened up the books and answered the questions put to him no one could then question his or Lee Jasper’s probity? I doubt that he will do so and his failure to should tell you everything you need to know.