Cracks are finally starting to appear in the Labour wall of silence protecting Ken Livingstone. First it was Labour journalist Nick Cohen in the Guardian. Nick Cohen said: “If there were a wider sense of honour on the British liberal-left, it would have turned on Livingstone for his alliances with the religious right long ago.”
Cohen says later in the article: “There is much to attack. But you do not do it in the service of a regime that uses anti-western rhetoric and anti-semitic conspiracy theories to justify the denial of democracy to the subject peoples of Iran. What’s more, you do not do it for money.”
It has been unbelievable to me how Labour women, who are so strident about being feminists have stayed silent on these matters. The silence of Labour, particularly Labour women, on Ken’s extremist links, seemed to me to be the worst scandal of this election.
Now, Jonathan Roberts has written a painfully honest open letter to Ken Livingstone in Labour List. Everything that Jonathan Roberts says is precisely what Boris supporters have been blogging about for weeks. Shocked and appalled at the silence of Labour when these subjects were raised, it is a relief to read that a member of the Labour Party feels the same way.
Jonathan Roberts says: “Your supporters will say I’m disloyal to the Labour Party, but don’t seem to mind you campaigning against our candidate in Tower Hamlets.
Your supporters cheered you when you called tax avoiders “rich bastards”, but they don’t seem to mind the £50,000 you have allegedly avoided yourself.
Your supporters criticise Boris Johnson as a “part time Mayor” for churning out a weekly article for the Telegraph, but they don’t seem to mind that you were an MP and a writer for the Independent during substantial parts of your own Mayoral tenure.
Your supporters sing about how you speak the truth, but don’t seem to mind how independent fact-checking organisations regularly describe your claims as “fiction”.”
Reading what Jonathan Roberts has written has been a release. The people who are turning on Ken are the decent element of the Labour Party, outraged simply because these things are terribly wrong. My opinion of certain elements of the Labour Party shot up today.
UPDATE: Another Labour member, Mehdi Hasan, breaks ranks to criticise Ken. Regarding Ken’s tax avoidance, Hasan points out that Ken has been vocal in his support of UKUncut, who vociferously disapprove of legal tax avoidance. Tricky.
UPDATE 11/2/12 Guido Fawkes believes that Ken Livingstone might have broken electoral law as well as engaging in tax avoidance.
UPDATE: 22/3/12 Another brutal put-down of Ken’s tax avoidance and anti-semitic remarks in the blog The Centre Left. On 23/3/12, in the Guardian, Jonathan Freedland said he could no longer vote for Ken Livingstone.
In the Guardian today (17/4/12) Andrew Boff wrote “Ken promises but Boris delivers.”
17/4/12 On Labour List, a blogger demands loyalty for Ken! From the comments, there is not much support for that point of view!