The row over anti-Semitism in the Labour Party - which started when the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog discovered two items in Bradford West MP Naz Shah’s social media history, from before her election last year - would have fizzled out after a period of suspension, but one act of unforced idiocy ensured that the party would suffer maximum damage and the row would rumble on.
All the good work he did as Mayor was erased at a stroke. The Tories’ nasty dog whistle campaign against Sadiq Khan was instantly forgotten. David Cameron’s defaming of Suliman Gani under the cover of Parliamentary privilege was washed away. The Tories’ chances in next week’s local elections were suddenly enhanced.
Labour’s woes were compounded by the presence of self-promoting creep John Mann, who very deliberately used the occasion of Livingstone’s idiocy to to advance the cause of Himself Personally Now. Some observers claimed Mann was unaware of the phalanx of cameras and reporters. But he knew exactly who was there, what he was saying, and the effect it would have. And he is so desperate to kick the current leadership that he is prepared to damage, and if necessary, bring down his own party.
Cameron will not be able to believe his good fortune. Earlier in the week, after the Hillsborough inquest verdicts, Andy Burnham gave an impassioned speech in the Commons, indicating the need for the second part of the Leveson Inquiry, on the relationship between the press and the Police, to go ahead. His work may have been in vain after Livingstone’s crass stupidity allowed Cameron, more frightened than ever of the press establishment, to wriggle off the hook yet again.
There can be no way back now for Livingstone. He has been suspended from the Labour Party; expulsion must surely follow. Unlike Naz Shah, who has won the support of many Jewish voices, and shown sincere regret for her past comments, Ken will not, and indeed probably cannot, follow suit. He has proved congenitally unable to say sorry in the past, and that is unlikely to change now. His political career is over.
That has left London’s current and increasingly occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson off the hook, after his own dog whistle against Barack Obama, to present a bizarre sight as he tours the studios proclaiming his own virtue while laying into Livingstone for being racist. It also enables Bozza’s media pals to burnish his image, while most Londoners are beginning to see what a disaster his Mayoral tenure has been.
Livingstone was a way better Mayor than Bozza. But that does not forgive his needless and totally unforgivable outbursts yesterday. So there he goes, on his way … out.