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”.
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.