Recent Articles

Andrew Gilligan’s false allegations

by Dave Hill     November 25, 2008 at 8:36 am

Plenty of people had plenty of fun at the expense of Andrew Gilligan last week. Now the laughter has died down, let’s assess what has been learned.

Looking through the threads of the two Cif articles in question – by Ken Livingstone’s former chief of staff Simon Fletcher and by esteemed fellow Conspirator Adam Bienkov – we see striking examples of Gilligan making false allegations against his critics, being shown to be in the wrong, then failing to admit it or apologise. They don’t inspire much confidence.

1) At 4.50 on Friday afternoon, a commenter called AView posted three times on Adam’s thread in quick succession. Posting at 5.53 Gilligan asserted that AView was a pseudonym of Livingstone’s economics adviser John Ross. An hour later Ross, posting as RMRoss, made an appearance to point out that this was wrong (as did AView in the small hours of the following morning).
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Are schools ‘institutionally racist’?

by Dave Hill     September 8, 2008 at 2:47 am

New research by Warwick University’s Professor Steve Strand has found that British children of Caribbean heritage are discriminated against when entered for SATS tests at Key Stage 3 (Year 9 and aged 14).

Government data shows that children from a number of ethnic minority groups, including Pakistani, Bangladeshi and black African Britons, were doing far worse in these tests than white Britons. But while social factors such as economic background, attitudes to and attendance at school and mothers’ educational attainment appeared to explain this in relation to the other groups, it did not seem to with regard to the Caribbeans.
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Veronica’s crony

by Dave Hill     August 5, 2008 at 11:57 am

We were assuredly told by someone who writes for the Evening Standard that the prospect of Ken Livingstone running again in 2012 is hilarious, the best thing that could possibly happen to Mayor Johnson four years from now.

So why can’t “London’s Quality Newspaper” stop fighting the 2008 election? Haven’t they noticed that their boy won? Or are they, perhaps, secretly worried that Livingstone might yet present a threat to him?

I ask this only because they’ve seen fit to make the redundancy payments of Livingstone’s former advisers their front page story. Er, scoop. Needless to say Veronica’s Cat – who only ever deals in facts, you understand – manages to describe these people as “fanatically loyal” and “current or former senior members of Trotskyite group Socialist Action”, just in case there was any doubt in our minds that the severance sums are undeserved.
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Journalism of denial

by Dave Hill     July 17, 2008 at 2:34 pm

Naturally, “London’s Quality Paper” highlighted the bits that could be used to vindicate its dismal conduct during the election campaign and ignored any that didn’t. Predictably, the chief offenders seized on the report as an opportunity to attack Ken Livingstone again rather the face the fact that even this profoundly partial “audit” acknowledged that in many respects the LDA has done good work.

Never let reality get in the way of a good persecution, especially when you’ve invested so much of your collapsing credibility in it.

For the record, I’ve long been perfectly persuaded that the relationship between mayoral advisers and the LDA needs to be clarified. Indeed, it was the Standard that persuaded me. I’m also quite satisfied that Lee Jasper displayed poor judgment over some LDA grants and in one case hid from the consequences. He wouldn’t be my choice for equalities adviser either (though even his enemies applaud his work with the police.) But these were never grounds for a hard-right newspaper to smear the individual and an entire Labour administration, which is what the Standard and its political assassins did.
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Ken won’t be helping Patience Wheatcroft then

by Dave Hill     July 14, 2008 at 3:30 pm

My dear little news story arising from Tim Parker’s Politics Show interview yesterday mentions that Mayor Johnson’s Forensic Audit Panel will be publishing its final report shortly in advance of Mayor’s Question Time on Wednesday morning.

It also mentions that Ken Livingstone was formally invited to meet the panel to help them with their work. There had already been an informal approach, rebuffed by Livingstone in clear terms. But last Tuesday Patience Wheatcroft wrote him this note:

Dear Mr Livingstone,

You will be aware that the current Mayor asked me to chair a Forensic Audit Panel looking into the operations of the GLA and the LDA. During the course of our work we have interviewed many members of the Assembly, LDA board and executives and GLA executives. It would be helpful if we were also able to talk with you. I know that an informal invitation to you has been extended and rejected but I would now like to issue a formal invitation to you to meet with the panel.

Livingstone has sent this reply:
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My ten question for Boris

by Dave Hill     June 4, 2008 at 6:13 am

He’s holding his first press conference today morning. I doubt I’ll get the chance to ask more than a couple of these, so here’s my full list for his and your consideration.
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Exposed: Boris’s key adviser’s links with extreme group!

by Dave Hill     May 29, 2008 at 8:45 am

Just joking!

I’m out of town at the moment, visiting my mum, hence the recent paucity of posts. My time in the tiny internet shop I presently share with three Warcraft junkies and their loud crunchy sweets is mercifully short.

But I’ve had a quick read of this Evening Standard piece pointing out the misalignment between Mayor Johnson’s Tube booze ban and those of the Manifesto Club, which his culture director Munira Mirza was a found member of.

Imagine if she had been Ken Livingstone’s adviser.

Far from being a mere news story this information would have been seized on by a member of the Standard’s Get-Ken squad – especially the “lefties” among them – and inflated into a massive, oversold expose of a “key associate” having “links” with a “front organisation” for a “secretive libertarian cult” with roots in the far-Left Revolutionary Communist Party which supported Serb extremists during the Balkan wars and whose, erm, “shadowy leaders” have a 40 year history of assuming false identities and engaging in subversive political activities in an attempt to undermine the British state.

In fact, it would all be true, but not really terribly important – which is, ironically, what the Manifesto Club clique is so terrifically anxious to be.

Ten reasons to vote Ken

by Dave Hill     April 29, 2008 at 3:55 pm

During the weeks of the election campaign that’s eaten my life, I’ve striven to be fair to Boris Johnson. There was, though, never much chance I’d vote for him. That said, I’ve also been testing my loyalty to Ken Livingstone. I believe his various critics, including those with roots on the left, have over-spun or overstated their cases against him, but that isn’t to say they lack all force. There’s also the question of how much difference a change of mayor would really make.

On the day campaigning officially began, I argued that the job description and moderate content of Johnson’s stated polices meant that many of the differences were less of Big Ideas than emphasis. This wasn’t what Team Ken wanted to hear, as it made clear in a letter the Guardian published the following day: its job from the off has been to sharpen the contrast in substance – of both policy and pedigree – between the two men; Johnson’s, in keeping with David Cameron’s approach, has been to position himself just enough to the blue side of the incumbent to mobilise Tory support without confirming suspicions that he’s daft and extreme.

But though the choice between the two was not as stark as their media images suggested, there was no doubt they were there. The thing was to clarify and quantify them. I’ve done my best and now feel I can vote for Livingstone with conviction.

Here are 10 reasons why.

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How Boris rode his buses into a ditch

by Dave Hill     April 17, 2008 at 11:18 am

As the man who first exposed the financial inexactitude behind Boris Johnson’s “new Routemaster” proposals I’ve got to say I’m amazed that six week later he’s still getting his abacus in a twist about the cost of the scheme.

Actually, other people are in a muddle about it too, but Boris’s latest comments are making matters even worse for him. The story so far:

Episode One: Boris tells Vanessa Feltz it would cost £8 million to put conductors on the existing bendy bus routes. The following day, Ken Livingstone claims it would cost £80 million, though his website swiftly reduces that to £70 million. They can’t both be right.
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Which way is progress?

by Dave Hill     April 8, 2008 at 6:15 pm

Ken LivingstoneWhat does that term “progressive” mean? It’s a bit of a composite, one that strives to encompass social liberalism and economic leftism, environmentalism, multiculturalism, feminism and so on – an umbrella term, perhaps, for things that most conservatives dislike. It stands too for resistance to unaccountable and over-concentrated wealth and power, demanding that these things should be shared out and devolved for the benefit of the largest possible numbers of people.

If we accept that as a reasonable rough definition, who is the most progressive candidate for London mayor? The answer is not straightforward. Livingstone, of course, claims the progressive high ground and is calling for Green, Lib Dem and far Left sympathisers to join him there. He does so with some justice. In his GLC past he took the lead in campaigning against racism and for gay rights in the teeth of seething opposition. With public transport he championed and imposed cheap fares “on the rates”, driving his enemies madder still by becoming popular for doing it. Today, the green lobby lauds him as a trail blazer in tackling climate change and seeking to restrain car use.
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