Labour Assembly members back Livingstone’s vile slur on Edward Lister

At this morning’s London Assembly plenary meeting Boris’s new Chief of Staff answered questions on his plans and record in local government.  The tone was both professional and friendly.

At the end of the session I proposed a motion welcoming him to City Hall and calling on members to disassociate themselves from the comments made by Ken Livingstone last week in Bromley comparing him to Ratko Mladic who currently stands accused of war crimes and genocide.

The wording of the motion was:

That the Assembly notes the answers to the questions asked and welcomes the appointment of Edward Lister to the role of Chief of Staff and Deputy Mayor, Planning. The Assembly believes his long and distinguished experience in local government will benefit all of London and calls on all Members of the Assembly to disassociate themselves from the disgusting personal attacks made by a member of the public comparing him to a mass murderer and war criminal.

I was pleased that the Lib Dems on the Assembly (with whom we don’t always see eye-to-eye) felt that they could support the motion but I was both surprised and disappointed that the Labour members and Jenny Jones would not.

We were very careful with the wording of the motion, we weren’t calling on anyone to condemn either Livingstone or his comments, we were asking that members simply distance themselves from the comments.

I was particularly shocked when firstly John Biggs and then Val Shawcross stood and tried to make light of the comments, with Val Shawcross claiming that it was little more than a “bad joke”.

The proposal of the motion and the debate that followed can be viewed here, starting at the 2 hour 24 minute point.


Jenny Jones has contacted me about this post to make it clear that she and Darren did not in any way condone Livingstone’s comments about Edward Lister and I am happy to recognise the fact that they did in fact criticise him when they spoke during the debate, unlike the Labour members.  I am still disappointed that they couldn’t bring themselves to support a motion recognising Edward’s decades of public service and putting he criticism of Livingstone on record and I was surprised when Jenny voted with the Labour members.

I have amended the title of this post and apologise for saying that the greens backed Livingstone’s comments when they did not.  The Labour group did, both in their voting and in their comments from the floor.

18 responses to “Labour Assembly members back Livingstone’s vile slur on Edward Lister

  1. Is this what we're paying for? I have seen primary school kids conduct themselves better than you people. As you've been asked time and time again, stop slagging each other off, get off your backsides and do something for Londoners. You especially James.

    How about a post on something tangible that you have done that helps constituents and Londoners? or isn't there anything?

  2. You're getting upset about this, and then walked out to prevent a motion being discussed about raising the speed limit on Blackfriars Bridge?

    Are politicians' egos more important to you than the lives of cyclists and pedestrians?

    Shame on you.

  3. “a member of the public”

    Do you always have to pass motions about every comment from a member of the public about an officer. If so I think you would be very busy.

    What a waste of time, but then I guess since GLA members don't have any real powers, what can we expect except meaningless points scoring in debates.

  4. Thank God they don't have any power. But why are we paying these ghastly people to argue with each other in a way that satisfies their egos but is meaningless to us. And putting them in a warm building to do so. I only read this blog because it's so awful it's entertaining but I would willingly sacrifice it in order to rid ourselves of the expense of this LAM.

  5. James,

    We don't need AMs to pass motions to tell us what they think about Livingstone or what we should think about him. We know him well enough, for good or ill.

    We do need AMs to hold public debates and scrutinise the mayor on issues like safety on Blackfriars Bridge. This is actually what you get elected to do and paid for.

    Now pull your finger out and get back to work. This he said/she said stuff does you absolutely no credit and shows your complete lack of political maturity.

  6. So you are happy to “earn” the salary us Londoners pay you debating motions to score cheap political points but not to spend that time we pay you for debating the safety of cyclists?

    I used to think you were one of the good tories, I even considered voting for you a few years ago, but since you were elected I have been sadly disappointed by you.

  7. As disappointed as Sidcup people were when we were conned out of our A&E in return for votes. So as a cyclist I would be doubly disappointed if I didn't understand the cynicism of this career-focused person and didn't expect anything else apart from the entertainment of this ludicrously self-obsessed blog.

  8. People ask why I was happy to debate the motion on Livingtone but wonder why I and other Conservatives left the chamber afterwards.

    As the Mayor holds all the executive power in London government the character of the candidates for the post is of the highest importance.

    None of our motions are binding on the mayor so his/her attitudes towards people and policies is the real issue.

    As livingstone was, and hopes to be, Mayor of London his comments and attitudes matter a great deal.

    Some have accused us of petty politics but on the issue of Blackfriars Bridge it is a classic example of politics for headlines sake. As our votes are not binding this was about generating headlines rather than change. The Conservative group have discussed this issue both with the Mayor directly and with the transport team at City Hall.

    Because the Lib Dems/Greens/Labour vote en-block there is no real debate just opportunities to attack the Mayor, who on this issue holds the needs of cyclists very highly.

    You have accused me of not taking my role seriously, yet our argument with the other groups is that they have, in large part, excluded us from the scrutiny process.

    In the House of Commons committee membership and Chairmanships are divided up proportionally by levels of party representation. At City Hall we have been marginalised by the other parties. While this may seem petty to an outside observer it is frustrating to us and an insult to the 44 percent of Londoners who voted for us.

    We are left relatively powerless and occasionally leaving meetings is one of the only ways we have of making a point.

    It is worth remembering that if the other parties have all their members in the Chamber we cannot collapse anything.

    As a regular (fanatical) cyclist I appreciate the anger that our actions have caused but we are forced to use guerilla tactics to make ourselves heard in the stich-up which is the London Assembly.

  9. “As our votes are not binding this was about generating headlines rather than change” – your remark here could apply to either of the motions in question. Difference being your motion was about cheap political point scoring in time paid for by us London council tax payers, whereas the motion about the speed limit on Blackfriars Bridge was about bringing attention to the safety of ordinary Londoners.

    “we are forced to use guerilla tactics to make ourselves heard” – that tactic might result in you being heard, as small children screaming “I want, I want” are always heard, but if you engaged in mature debate people might find it worthwhile to listen to you.

    I still can't work out why we should be paying you a salary when you decide to walk out and not do the job you were elected for.

  10. You answered as if you were only being accused of not offering anything of substance on just this issue and criticising someone for the first time. You have never brought anything of substance to Londoners, you only ever indulge in slagging people off – you are stealing a living. When it's election time again what on earth will you say that you have done? Or will you find another hospital that is about to shut and lead voters to think you'll save it?

    Look after cyclists, look after patients, look after constituents – not just your obsessive interest in your own career.

  11. Jo

    “I still can't work out why we should be paying you a salary when you decide to walk out and not do the job you were elected for.”

    Those comments would make more sense if the incident you're talking about didn't happen two and a half hours into a meeting.

    Shoot me an email and I'll be more than happy to send you a sample of my diary to show you what I do for my money. If you still don't think I'm working hard enough, so be it.

  12. Bet your diary is entertaining:

    Monday: slag off Ken Liv.
    Tuesday: anniversary of calling Simon Hughes 'a dick', slag off BBC in celebration.
    Wednesday: say how much I like Mike Tuffrey but make sure I slag him off anyway.
    Thursday: slag off Ed Balls. Give award to southeastern railways – everyone slags them off and it's not fair! (make sure to get photo taken with Charles Horton, he REALLY gets slagged off!)
    Friday: run out of people to slag off; go back to Gordon Brown and slag him off. Hope people remember who he was! Say something cringey about the royals.

    Why not give us some tangible examples of things you've done this year that will make us think we're getting value from your salary. Prove people wrong and tell us where you have made a positive contribution. 'scrutinising' doesn't count unless you can tell us any practical, positive outcome.

  13. Anonymous makes no time in the schedule for regimental dinners, hospitality at Ascot from PR firms, and lunch paid for by the NSPCC.

    And I don't think the assembly needs to spend time debating motions regarding remarks made by Ken about war criminals. When he was mayor there was slightly more point, but even then they could not even force the mayor to apologise (nor could Tony Blair), and when the inquiry said he should be suspended from office nothing came of it. Our system has made it quite clear that mayors and future mayors are allowed to get away to comparisons to mass murderers.

  14. “politics is a dirty game, and it should be carried out by dirty people”

    I'm right behind you james.

  15. Val Shawcross is one of the biggest hypocrites in politics: if you disagree or criticise her she'll make out you have said something insulting or 'abusive' (her favourite term) yet seems happy to endorse Labour members making openly personal and insulting comments.

    Still the plus side is that each time Ken makes such comments his opinion poll leads over Boris evaporates. Or is Val a Tory in disguise to help Boris' re-election. I think we should be told.

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