Bye, Ken!

I know he was a raving liberal, but I could never stand Ken Livingstone.

Boris Johnson has won the race to become the next mayor of London – ending Ken Livingstone’s eight-year reign at City Hall.

The Conservative candidate won with 1,168,738 first and second preference votes, compared with Mr Livingstone’s 1,028,966 on a record turnout of 45%.

Sorry, but I just hated him and I am glad he’s gone. I’m not surprised about the election results in the UK. Tony Blair has pretty much destroyed Labour for the next several years, which is too bad, because other than Iraq, it’s a pretty good party.

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34 replies
  1. 1
    dslak says:

    The replacement of Livingston with Johnson is nothing to cheer about. Maybe if he’d been replaced with somebody competent. See if you’re still happy after reading this. (h/t: Crooked Timber)

  2. 2
    Michael D. says:

    I have to say, I know nothing about Johnson. I’m just reacting, I admit.

  3. 3
    Jeffrey says:

    45 percent is considered a “record” turnout? Really?

  4. 4
    Marc says:

    Johnson is….well, unbelievably bad. For a magnificent takedown, and an incredibly fun read, see

    http://www.newstatesman.com/200804300002

    My favorites:

    He is a man who has lost a number of jobs for lying: he was sacked from The Times for making up a quotation from his godfather, the Oxford historian Colin Lucas, and lost his front-bench role, under Michael Howard, for lying about his four-year extra-marital affair with his fellow toff journalist, Petronella Wyatt. (For men like Johnson, with friends in high places, serial sackings are no bar to advancement.)

    As well as being a famous liar, Johnson has skirted the borders of criminality when it has suited his interests or those of his foul, larcenous and over-privileged friends.

    Although he is campaigning to run London, he admits to complete administrative incompetence: he left a job as a trainee management consultant complaining that he could not “stay conscious” when confronted with financial information.

    Boris Johnson is not only shady, dishonest and incompetent. He is also a particularly offensive kind of clown, as is evidenced by his absurd litany of gaffes and insults. The people of Papua New Guinea are, according to Johnson, “cannibals,” while Portsmouth is “full of drugs, obesity, underachievement and Labour MPs”.
    ———————–
    Remember, they have libel laws in Britain. Fortunately, truth is a defense against a libel charge. And the rhetorical shiv employed is truly artful.

    None of this is to take away from Red Kens heavy-handedness, of course. But his replacement is going to be a train wreck.

  5. 5
    Michael D. says:

    Marc: Yeah, I read that. And I feel bad about my opinion, but I just HATE Ken Livingstone. It’s a completely visceral reaction. I know quite a few people in London who are thoroughly embarrassed that he is (was) Mayor.

    I do know he wasn’t as bad as he is in my mind. I just can’t stand the guy.

  6. 6
    Marshall says:

    It’s not just the London mayoralty – Labour lost big time all over the place and was in third place in the council elections held across the UK. The British papers are duly full of doom and gloom for Labour and joy for the Tories.

    One reason that the London turnout was high was that the Tories ran a get-out-the-vote campaign in the outer London boroughs which, much as in the US, are more likely to vote for conservatives.

  7. 7
    Robert Sneddon says:

    Red Ken Livingstone is/was the Clinton-analogue, a policy wonk who knew what was best for people whether they liked it or not (congestion charging, pollution controls etc.)

    Bloody Stupid Johnston is the Bush43-analogue, an uncurious Good Old Boy surrounded by conservative nutters (Privatise everything! School vouchers!) and financial sharks who have been salivating at the chance to get their teeth into the multi-billion London budget, especially with the 2012 Olympic beanfeast coming up.

    As a friend said to her London-based colleagues, “we’re laughing at you, not with you.”

  8. 8

    If only Robert Vesco had run for mayor!

  9. 9
    kb says:

    “because other than Iraq, it’s a pretty good party.”

    if you ignore the incompetence , the lying , the criminality, the arrogance, the frenzied snouts in the trough mentality, the disdain for civil rights etc then yes it’s not a bad party.

    Which is partially why livingstone is out on his arse….

  10. 10
    dslak says:

    the disdain for civil rights

    Oh, come on! They only want to hold suspects for forty-two days without charge. What have innocent people got to fear?

  11. 11
    vwcat says:

    Blair did for his party what Bush did for his. Maybe that’s why they are so close. They both destroyed everything around them.

  12. 12
    Porquin Panko says:

    I expect Johnson to be the gift that keeps on giving for the Labour Party. Eminently capable of making a complete arse of himself within six months, the Tory leadership has nailed his colours to their mast. And, as the extract posted above suggests, “buffoon” doesn’t begin to describe Johnson. This should be fun to watch. Not for Londoners, I would imagine, but he’ll be good for a laugh for the rest of us. He always has been.

  13. 13
    Kav says:

    because other than Iraq, it’s a pretty good party.

    sorry Michael but as someone who cannot wait for the next general election to get rid of them I have to vehemently disagree with that statement.

  14. 14
    Suicidal Zebra says:

    It should be noted that Ken Livingstone really wasn’t a ‘liberal’, he was an old-school communist. Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with that per se, it just helps against the ‘you’re throwing a fellow liberal under a bus’ comeback.

    Ken, though generally well liked in inner-city London, has continued to marginalise non-East End Londoners with a series of tax increases (congestion charge and council tax, the latter to pay for the Olympics) whilst devoting no regeneration funds to areas of London south of the river. Couple this with a really bad year for the Labour Party as a whole and Ken was always looking runner-up. When it was realised that turn-out in Outer London specifically was high it sounded the death-knell for his campaign.

    It is true that Boris is dishonest, but then the same charge can be laid at Ken, and many other politicians (especially those involved in 1970’s London politics). In a recent ‘debate’ (hah!, debate my arse) on Questiontime he admitted that the London Olympics bidding process was a “Con”, which if you are keeping score is a con which has cost the British taxpayer (not just Londoners) 9bn so far and rising. Right now, Boris hasn’t lied about anything of that magnitude.

    I’m not a Boris supporter, and I certainly wouldn’t vote for the guy, but he’s been elected and now he needs to be given a chance. Just as we gave Red Ken a chance. Or enough rope to hang himself with, whichever is your preference.

    45 percent is considered a “record” turnout? Really?

    Yep, local and national elections in the UK for the past 11 years have had an appalling turnout for a variety of reasons. Same goes for European (MEP) elections, which should tell you a lot about the state of politics in the UK right now.

  15. 15
    kb says:

    “I expect Johnson to be the gift that keeps on giving for the Labour Party. Eminently capable of making a complete arse of himself within six months,”

    Short of accidentally burning london to the ground, i really don’t see , given the limited powers of the mayor’s office, how johnson will actually be able to, even in a worst case scenario, cause too many problems.

    And this seems to be the new labour talking point. 6 months ago it was how boris could never be a serious candidate. Now it’s how he can’t be a good mayor. And how it’s really good news for labour that he won.

    And in any case given the rank incompetence currently being shown by Labour it’s doubtful that anything boris can do will be able to top the grotesque circus that is currently passing itself off as “Her Majesty’s Government”.

  16. 16
    Porquin Panko says:

    Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t hold a brief for the present leadership of the Labour Party, but I’m basing my view on my exposure to Johnson. Quite rightly,the voters get what they vote for, I just have to go with the evidence as I have seen it over the last 15 years of Johnson’s career.

  17. 17
    blah blah blah says:

    The British would be a better people if they just got rid of those awful accents. If we can do it, they can too.

  18. 18
    ThePirate says:

    I think Jeremy Hardy summed up Boris Johnson best.

    “He may seem like a lovable buffoon but you know he wouldn’t hesitate to line you all up against a wall and have you shot.”

  19. 19
    Andrew J. Lazarus says:

    As long as they leave in the congestion charge.

    I’ve played tourist in London several times and the improvement in traffic was notable.

  20. 20
    dr. bloor says:

    Johnson is….well, unbelievably bad. For a magnificent takedown, and an incredibly fun read, see…

    “Petronella Wyatt?” “Darius Guppy?” I thought all those names in the Potter series were figments of Rowling’s imagination…

    This should put Harry Hutton at the top of his game for the next few years.

  21. 21
    tim says:

    What is one to make of the frequent use of the word “HATE” used here at BJ by John C. and the other contributors?

    These “I’m sorry, but I just hate _____ (insert Hillary or GWB or whomever else)” posts seem pretty irrational and emotional and…petulant.

    Am I wrong?

  22. 22
    Egypt Steve says:

    Red Ken! Red Ken! The People, United, Will Never be Defeated!

    Give me a real, fire-breathing, fuck-the-rich socialist any day. There’s only one way to deal with the fascist coup that is overtaking this country: when they pull a knife, you pull a gun. They put one of yours in the hospital, you put two of theirs in the morgue. That’s the Livingston way. Hopefully our Chicago Wunderkind has learned a thing or two about how to deal with the Evil Doers who are manipulating and controlling McBush. Otherwise, we are well and truly fucked.

  23. 23
    DougJ says:

    This is bad news for Democrats.

  24. 24
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    This is bad news for Democrats.

    Only the Islamocommie ones. Those who align themselves with the Republicans will be spared.

  25. 25
    Tony J says:

    I’m not surprised in the least. When Blair was forced from office last year the country thought it’d be getting something different with Brown, who had supposedly spent ten years grinding his teeth in anticipation of the day he could run the Party and the country the way the people had expected a Labour leader to do when they kicked out the Conservatives in 1997.

    Instead, he’s been more Blairite than Blair, but without the cheesy PR stylings that allowed St Tony to keep the virulently right-wing British Media onside. Only now the bottom has dropped out of credit-based housing boom that was propping up the economy, people are scared, angry, and resentful towards a Government that has proven itself to be no different in ideology than the Tories. And given the chance they’ve handed Brown and anyone associated with him a stern kick-in-the-bollocks protest vote.

    I’ve got a horrible feeling the lesson is going to be lost on the current Labour leadership, and we’re going to see something like this repeated when the next general Election comes around. At which point the Labour Party is going to have to do a fair bit of housecleaning to win back the trust of their core voters.

    Still, Boris Johnston as Mayor of bloody London. That’s funnier than when Hartlepool elected a guy in a monkey suit.

  26. 26
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    Tony J, is it true that Britain limits the campaigning to a few weeks before the election? I seem to remember reading that somewhere. After this year’s grind I sure wouldn’t mind similar regulation here although it would be struck down as soon as it was passed.

  27. 27
    Redhand says:

    but I just HATE Ken Livingstone

    Hear Hear! However atrocious his successor may be, I’m glad this jerk is gone. “Red Ken” was and is a compleat asshole.

  28. 28
    kb says:

    “is it true that Britain limits the campaigning to a few weeks before the election? ”

    Well it’s not limited by law or anything.

    But because parliament has a maximum term rather than a fixed term, it means that the date of an election isn’t known until (usually) a few weeks beforehand.

    So the parties tend to keep their powder dry(and their money ready) until the PM heads off up the mall to ask the Queen to dissolve parliament.

    So brown ,for instance, toyed with going to the country last year but now looks as he’ll have to hold on until the last possible minute (which would be june 2010) but constitutionally there’s nothing to stop him asking the Queen this week to dissolve parliament and have an election at the end of may.

  29. 29
    Dennis - SGMM says:

    Thanks, kb. I’m not qualified to judge whether we’d be any better off with a parliamentary system here but I’m very frustrated by the way our politics is dominated by the necessity for endless fund raising in order to maintain incessant campaigning. The people’s business gets done as an afterthought.

  30. 30
    Bob says:

    Also to note, is that the parties choose their leaders, and we choose the Prime Minister.
    Therefore you dont have to put up with 6 months of ‘i’m the best conservative, and i’m the best Labour’ followed by 6 months of ‘ i’m the best for Prime Minister’. We get the ‘favourite’ of each party standing for their party and thats damn well that.

  31. 31
    Cassius Chaerea says:

    Screaming Lord Sutch is rolling over in his grave.

  32. 32
    Dave Weeden says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CcgrZs4GXv4

    Boris Johnson on Darius Guppy and _that_ phone call.

  33. 33
    Jimmm says:

    “I have to say, I know nothing about _________. I’m just reacting, I admit.”

    Template for a typical Michael D. post.

  34. 34
    Kynn says:

    Damn you, Jimmm.

    That is exactly what I was going to say.

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