Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Saturday 4 August 2007

If this is the best Labour have got on Boris Johnson ...

... well it ain't much. Funny how we've never heard these remarks from Diane Abbott and Dawn Butler before - for example when Boris was first appointed to David Cameron's Shadow Cabinet.

Could it be something to do with the fact that I heard Ken Livingstone on the 'Today' programme a couple of days ago suggesting that Johnson would be difficult to beat:

"I know a lot of people say Boris will be a walkover. I think Boris is the most formidable opponent I will face in my political career.

"He's got a high profile, he's a charming and engaging rogue, that's why I want to get on to what he believes in and will do, rather than whether you would want him as your next door neighbour."

Livingstone's instincts are probably correct, but I expect we'll be hearing a great deal more of this kind of smear tactic against Boris in the run-up to the Conservatives selecting their candidate - then if it's Boris that's chosen I expect the next phase of Labour's campaign against him to be rolled out. As an MP with one of the most eclectic mixtures in his personal background of any MP, both ethnically and religiously, I find these comments from Labour apparatchiks somewhat laughable. Of course it's true that Boris Johnson is a somewhat gaffe-prone individual, but Ken Livingstone is easily his rival in that particular field and he was only accepted back into the Labour fold a few years ago because Labour knew that their own preferred alternative candidates would never beat him in a million years. Whatever one may think of Livingstone's politics, he is a wily operator and seems, bizarrely, to have the kind of charisma that appeals to a lot of Londoners. He will be difficult to beat, but Ken recognises a fellow-maverick and that seems to be what the good people of London go for - that's the danger Ken sees clearly. However, I don't think the clumsy attacks that Abbott and Butler mounted in the trail of Mrs Lawrence's comments will have a lot of traction.

Finally, whilst Mrs Doreen Lawrence, mother of murder victim Stephen Lawrence, has every right to hold whatever opinion on Johnson, or indeed any other matter, she cares to I really don't think that her views are worth any more than any other citizen of this country, or London. Of course it's convenient for Labour to use her comments to partisan effect (even though this lady has a record of attacking this Labour government too when she feels it necessary) - perfectly understandable, that's politics; but that's all it is.

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