Ken Livingstone's defeat as the Labor party mayor of London after eight
years in office surely needs to be put in the context of the wider
defeat of Gordon Brown's comrades in the town council elections
throughout Britain. As Sarah Lyall reports in Saturday's New York
Times, Labor "had suffered the worst local election results in at least
But Livingstone was a particularly obnoxious type, the kind of person who simply wears thin. And while wearing thin also grating on the voters. Or as Lyall puts it: "In London, Mr. Livingstone was seen as an authoritarian figure who had become increasingly isolated and prickly." Of course, there were the usual more tangible issues: cronyism and crime, for example.
His Tory opponent was Boris Johnson, an idiosyncratic, if also hilarious intellectual who had spent the last years in Commons and as editor of The Spectator shooting himself in the foot. I'd met Johnson at Oxford when I debated there decades ago, and what I still carry away from that moment is his jokes. But the jokes were the kind that come only from a deeply serious person.
Nothing I've read in the American press about the London mayoral elections has pointed to the fact that tiresome Livingstone is also a bigot. Today's U.K. Guardian mentions this once, a bit gingerly. Still, the facts are the facts: Livingstone is a nasty anti-Semite. No, he is not "just" anti-Israel. You don't believe me? Link to "ken livingstone" and "jews" on Google and you'll see 156,000 entries. Still, why is the mayor of London so obsessed with Israel? Link to "ken livingstone" and "israel" on Google and you'll get 379,000 entries. These are not friendly liaisons.
One of Livingstone's pranks was to invite Islamic cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi to a confab at City Hall. Alas, Qaradawi is a homophobe, a defender of wife-beating, and an apologist (Goddamnit, there must be a stronger word) for Palestinian terrorism against Jews.
So here's my election analysis. Two million Londoners voted in the mayoral elections. Livingstone received 1,029,000. Johnson received 1,169,000 and won by a margin
of 140,000. There are roughly 280,000 to maybe 300,000 Jews in London, the 13th largest Jewish center in the world, making up 3.1% of the city. Well, say (given a high voting rate and a lower than average rate of individuals under voting age), half the Jews voted and maybe 100 to 1000 voted for Lvingstone. That still leaves you with Johnson's margin of victory. Do not...
Eight percent of the London population is Muslim...It's not as if they didn't vote for Livingstone. Of course, there are many other variables, some more salient.