By Jonathan Hoffman
May 6, 2012
Boris Johnson is a supremely gifted man. His command of the written and spoken English language is sans pareil. He writes at lightning speed. He has bucketfuls of charisma - his personality is as powerful at an Afro-Caribbean husting as it is at a Jewish Charity dinner or at Mayor's Question Time. He has impeccable judgment - he knows when to be jokey and when to be serious. And he's very modest. It was not Johnson who told the Press how he had come to the aid of a woman under attack in Camden:
So congratulations to this thoroughly decent guy (and his campaign team) on a terrific win on Thursday. It was a very different campaign from 2008. Then there was a real bandwagon effect: Johnson started off as a no-hope candidate but as revelations mounted about Livingstone's profligacy at City Hall (eg £36000 for him and his entourage to go to Cuba and Venezuela, and producing "The Londoner", a propaganda sheet read by no-one) so support for Johnson mounted. This campaign was a joyless slog with Johnson doggedly defending his many successes and insisting that Livingstone's plan to cut underground fares by 7% was uneconomic.
What about Livingstone and the Jewish Community?
Undoubtedly Livingstone is unacceptable to the vast majority of Jewish Londoners. He has told me for example three times that Israel should not have been created:
The third time he lied that the previous Chief Rabbi said the same thing.
And undoubtedly those Jews who stuck with Livingstone despite all the evidence wil be examining their consciences:
Even Jonathan Freedland refused to support him!
But there was a very heartening statistic in an opinion poll in The Times last week (1 May):
40% of those who intended to vote for Johnson said that Livingstone's poor relationship with the Jewish Community was either a very or a quite important influence on their voting decision.
(See Table 16 here (Boris Johnson column) for the source of that 40% figure:)
In other words Livingstone's distaste for Israel and her Jewish supporters was not a vote winner.
It was a vote loser.
I find that very heartening. Antisemitism should never be just a Jewish problem.
Two excellent pieces from a centre Left writer - Rob Marchant - here: