Ken needs to show a profound change

By Martin Bright, August 25, 2011

To win over voters who threw him out of office at the last mayoral election, Ken Livingstone will need to demonstrate that he is no longer a sectarian politician prepared to set one community against another.He must also recognise that the "cheeky chappy" act no longer washes with large sections of the electorate.

News of his speech at a Bengali festival, and his comments last week about voters facing a choice between good and evil at the forthcoming mayoral elections, are worrying signs that Ken is up to his old tricks.

The broadcasting watchdog Ofcom found against the Bangladeshi TV channel which broadcast Ken's speech at the Baishaki Mela festival. However, he appeared alongside the highly divisive Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, who left the Labour Party to stand as an Independent.

Ken has calculated that backing Mr Rahman's brand of Islamism-lite will win him enough support to justify sacrificing the votes of Jewish, gay or more moderate Muslim Londoners.

There is no doubt that Ken's comments comparing himself to Churchill and Boris Johnson to Hitler were intended as light-hearted banter. But there is often a darker edge to the ex-mayor's "jokes". At the heart of his politics is the belief that he is on the side of good and his opponents are on the side of evil. No change there then.

Last updated: 11:17am, August 25 2011