Boris and Ken: Like old drunks at a wedding

By Martin Bright, May 3, 2012
The Ken and Boris show,  as the two main rivals for the London mayoralty try to persuade voters one last time

The Ken and Boris show, as the two main rivals for the London mayoralty try to persuade voters one last time

The London mayoral election has been the opposite of edifying. The grown-ups have been behaving like drunken relatives at a wedding reception. No one, with the possible exception of the Independent candidate, Siobhan Benita, comes out of this looking good.

The Jewish Chronicle goes to press before the London electorate goes to the polls, but whatever the outcome this campaign has not seriously addressed the concerns of the Jewish community (or any other community come to that). The intense personal hostility between the two main candidates has distracted from any serious discussion of policy. In the aftermath of the riots, in the middle of an economic crisis, it would not have been too much to expect some ideas for bringing London together.

There are those in the Jewish community and beyond who always saw the prospect of a Ken Livingstone victory as a catastrophe. The very fact that the Labour Party saw fit to choose him as their candidate has had a devastating effect on its credibility. It is difficult to explain how a politician as experienced as Mr Livingstone could leave a group of supporters with the impression that he thought Jews were too rich to vote for him. The subsequent sight of the Shadow Cabinet lining up to support such a clearly divisive candidate has marked a new low-point in relations between the Labour Party and the Jews.

The London Jewish Forum worked hard to maintain lines of communication with the Livingstone campaign and Ed Miliband did well to force his candidate to write an apology of sorts in the pages of the JC. But this can only be the beginning if the Labour Party is to rebuild trust after this fiasco. There is a poison within the party that still bubbles up far too often. It expressed itself in comments from Paul Flynn about the alleged "dual loyalty" of Britain's ambassador to Israel, and in Jeremy Corbyn's support for the blood-libel Islamist Raed Salah. It expresses itself in nods and winks about the influence of the "Israel lobby" on the coalition government.

This toxin will take years to flush from the Labour Party, whatever the result on Thursday.

Last updated: 1:02pm, May 3 2012