James Forsyth

Has anyone endorsed Ken enthusiastically?

Has anyone endorsed Ken enthusiastically?
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The three press endorsements of Ken Livingstone that have appeared in recent days have one overarching theme in common:  a complete lack of enthusiasm for Livingstone. The Observer even urges its readers to withhold their first preference votes from Ken to send him a message. Its backing comes with heavy caveats. Indeed, one would not expect to read this kind of paragraph in an endorsement editorial:

“But Ken's able choice of words is matched by an appalling choice in friends. He has let himself be wooed - and in one case bankrolled - by property developers with much to gain from access to City Hall. When faced with allegations of corruption involving Lee Jasper, one of his advisers, Mr Livingstone's response was abrasive, petulant and dishonest: he accused Mr Jasper's critics of racism. 

Most damaging to Ken's credentials as leader of a cosmopolitan city, he publicly embraced Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a religious zealot and apologist for suicide bombers.” The Guardian cannot muster much more enthusiasm for the task. It declares that “the choice facing London is not a happy one” and warns that the Mayor should not take victory as “an endorsement of his efforts to turn City Hall into a personal fiefdom”. Like The Observer, The Guardian is disappointed that the Lib Dems did not field a stronger candidate.

Despite the pertinent criticisms of Livingstone made by Martin Bright, the magazine’s political editor, The New Statesman does encourage its readers to vote Livingstone. But only after criticising Livingstone for “his overpaid cronies, his lack of accountability, his disdain for the Assembly, his dalliance with radical Islam and his involvement (for which he has no electoral mandate) in Latin American politics.” 

Reading these editorials, one can’t help but be reminded of the equally hedged and grudging endorsements that the Tories received prior to their 1997 drubbing. When even those who are ideologically sympathetic to you are so unenthusiastic about your candidacy then something is very wrong.    

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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