Although last week, while I was leafing through the Evening Standard, I came across a story that was at once comical and infuriating! It was widely reported last week that an almighty row erupted between the two front-runners for the Mayor of London. Apparently, during a radio interview at LBC, Ken Livingstone accused the Mayor, Boris Johnson, of evading tax, which of course is a criminal offence. Understandably, the Mayor was furious and called him a F***** liar! The reports suggested there was an almighty row in the lift on the way up to the roof for a photo shoot and both men were very unhappy indeed. The Mayor subsequently published his income as related to his tax affairs and robustly denied Ken Livingstone’s insinuations.
Now you may have detected some bias in the tone of my recounting of these events and if you haven’t then I declare them now: I am a black conservative and therefore, predisposed to take political sides with Boris Johnson. Quite apart from my bias though, the spectacle of squabbling candidates might be comical and I can’t deny having a great laugh when I read the article (ROTFL as we say on BBM and twitter) but there was a deep-seated rage simmering beneath the laughter.
The rage stems from the fact that it’s this type of spectacle that prevents participation in the political process and diminishes the credibility and effectiveness of the democratic process. In an instant age, we have no time to decipher the hype and sound bites and get to what the politicians are actually saying, to suss out those who are power-hungry from those who are genuinely trying to do their best for the country or in this case, London.
It’s really not very hard to do, because once you peel back all the media blitz and sound bites, which some politicians employ, at the same time as blaming the media for it, you can quickly see who’s who. Like Ken using the tired Labour tactics of accusing the Tories of being toffs (if that’s a crime, arrest the cast of Made in Chelsea right now!) protecting the rich or promising money that they know is unavailable to ‘buy’ votes.
Most politicians are economical with the truth, because frankly, when they tell us, the electorate, the truth we tend to do strange things. However when a politician tells a blatant untruth, I think anything else they say or do bears great scrutiny.
I remember when Ken Livingstone campaigned for the first Mayoral elections and was in contention with the Labour party who didn’t want him to stand for them because they thought he was too much of a maverick (now there’s an American election term). Labour supporters were worried he would leave the party and he reassured them (no doubt to gain their votes) that he would never stand as an independent, he would rather resign. Well we all know what happened then, he did stand as an independent and won and people forgot that he lied. Well, I didn’t and so when he says in his political broadcast, ‘If I haven’t delivered this price cut by 7 October, I will resign, no question,’ I simply don’t believe it. I say the same as Boris Johnson, he’s a ‘F***** liar’ ……But that’s just me.
What do you say? I’ve laid my political self bare, hoping to provoke a reaction. The one I want to provoke is not angry replies from black Labour supporters asking how I can vote conservative, but one that gets you out in May to cast your vote and help shape our great city. I know it sounds cheesy, because my son always reminds me when I say it to him, but people died and are still dying (just look at Syria) to cast a vote, so don’t waste yours on 3 May 2012!