Dead Men Left

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Ken Livingstone: a few words

I didn't want to talk about the Ken Livingstone "concentration camp guard" business. The stupidity of it all is worthy of a ghastly students' union rag, where wannabe hacks frantically attempt turn the non-events and backbiting of student politics into earthshattering news: all under the guise of holding the very highest of motives, of course - whilst all the time doing nothing more than furthering their own petty ambitions.

Unfortunately, this absurd media spat shows no signs of abating just yet. Some kind of statement is necessary.

Was Livingstone offensive? Yes, very much so; anyone would be offended by the comparison he made.

Was it an absurd thing to say? Yes, a stupid Rick-like remark; comparing anyone you don't like to a fascist is infantile, even if it was made here in response to some "only doing my job" comments from the jorunalist.

Was Livingstone racist? Did he, in a weasely formulation, use "racist discourse"? No. It was not a comment on the reporter's background, nor was it a comment on Jews more generally.

As one respondent on the BBC website said,

The tedious regularity with which certain sections of the right wing media in this country latch onto anything that, to them, hints at anti-Semitism is becoming an unbearable drag. Your average Jewish member of the community, myself that is, wishes that these 'journalists' would stop. Shame on this journalist for trivialising what are serious, emotional issues in the Jewish community in the hope of scoring cheap political points for a newspaper's personal campaign against a popular, democratically elected politician. I pray that when this hack has true reason some day to cry wolf that there will still be someone left to listen.
Paul Freedland, London

All this should be filed, incidentally, under "B" for "bleeding obvious, stating the".

That the Telegraph, the pro-war "left"[*] and the vile London Tories should be in close alignment on the issue should be enough to make wary any self-respecting anti-racist. That Blair has shamelessly leapt on the bandwagon is hardly a great surprise; he reserves his braver moments for facing down his supposed allies, but rolls over on the Right's command.

As for the Evening Standard and its sister papers, Livingstone put it best:

"Although we uniquely have some brilliant newspapers and first-rate journalists, their standing is dragged down by what must be some of the most reprehensibly managed, edited and owned newspapers in the world.

"They have a disgraceful record, none more so than the Daily Mail," he said.

"When it was first set up [in 1896] its first campaign was against Jewish refugees coming to London from the pogroms. It continued its anti-Semitism in the 1930s, fighting any proposals that Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler should be admitted to this country."

[Livingstone] said the Mail had run stories supporting fascism and that its owner, the 1st Viscount Rothermere, the great-grandfather of the present proprietor, had welcomed Hitler's rise.

"Had Britain lost the war and had the Nazis controlled Britain, Lord Rothermere and his cohorts would have been at the front of the queue of collaborators."

It is, as Albert Scardino writes, about time someone stood up to the claque of Tory bullies who control too much of our press, however they now masquerade their supposed concern for minorities. The real question here is simple: why does London, surely alone of all the major metropolitan centres of the world, have only one city-wide evening newspaper? Why should largely left-leaning, anti-racist Londoners have to tolerate a vile Tory rag claiming to speak on their behalf?

[*] it is only fair to point out that David T's cowardly, smear-laden article, and his mounting hysteria in the comments appended to it, are met with a dissenting voice from Brownie.