Ken Livingstone was ‘hit by Jewish rows’
But this is precisely what Ken Livingstone did to London’s Jews, and outgoing deputy mayor Nicky Gavron has acknowledged that ‘the Qaradawi and Finegold incidents had cost Ken Livingstone Jewish votes’. In Barnet and Camden — the constituency with the highest Jewish population — his vote dropped from 37.7 per cent in 2004 to 35.4 per cent.
Ms Gavron is herself Jewish – indeed, she was the only Jew on the London Assembly – and so one wonders why she did not urge Mr Livingstone to apologise a lot earlier than he did for comparing Jewish journalist Oliver Finegold to a concentration-camp guard. He would never have dared to compare a Muslim journalist to Chemical Ali or one of Saddam’s murderous republican guard, and so one can only conclude he was rather more concerned with courting the Muslim vote that the Jewish one.
Yet one also has to wonder where Ms Gavron was when in 2005 Mr Livingstone welcomed the radical Islamic cleric Sheikh Al Yusuf Qaradawi, who apparently advocates the murder of homosexuals and Israeli civilians and the beating-up of women. She was completely silent at the time, but now admits: ‘It was very damaging in relation to the Jewish vote… it did cause offence.’
It most certainly did, and not only to Jews, for the views of Sheikh Al Yusuf Qaradawi are offensive to reasonable people of all faiths. Indeed, there emerged a rainbow coalition of gays, lesbians, feminists, Sikhs, Hindus, Jews, secularists and democrats, all ranged against Mayor Livingstone, but all he could do was apologise to the Sheikh for the ‘outbreak of xenophobia and hysteria’ and their ‘underlying ignorance of Islam’.
Ms Gavron’s numerous omissions in her duty to advise Mayor Livingstone lend credence to the assertion that London is best rid of them both, for had Mr Livingstone won a third term, she would undoubtedly have continued as his deputy. And she had been considering implementing ‘a green plan for London Jewry’. Neville Sassienie, chair of the Board of Deputies social-issues action group, said: ‘We were discussing co-operation over a scheme for greening London Jewry and beginning to work with the Greater London Authority’s environmental people. We very much hope it will continue under the new mayor.’
Cranmer rather hopes rather emphatically that it will not. He could not believe that Mayor Boris would wish to pander to any particular ethnic or faith group in such a fashion, but will instead treat all Londoners quite simply as Londoners.
What would the reaction be to ‘greening London’s Muslims’ or ‘greening London’s Sikhs’? Such a focus is not only offensive, patronising and alienating, but it suggests a degree of ethical deficiency on the part of the specified group.
Or how about the deliciously alliterative ‘greening London’s gays’?
But then perhaps green isn’t their colour.
‘Greening London’s Jewry’ is as divisive as anything in a Qaradawi rant, and London’s Jewry were evidently right to support Boris Johnson.
And so were London’s Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhist, Atheists and Jedi Knights, who can all rest asured that they shall be treated equally and respectfully under the new mayoralty.