Telegraph columnist Sam Leith celebrated his 33rd birthday at the start of this week and finds himself, quite rightly, becoming more right wing as he grows up (see full article). His opinion of Livingstone has moved on in step:
Ken Livingstone, for example: a Man Of The Left, who Stuck It To Thatch, and was therefore a Good Thing. And then, here I was, reading my newspaper, and learning that the Mayor of London spent Â£30,000 of taxpayers’ money hobnobbing with convicted spies in Cuba. That he was planning to throw a party for Castro. On the London taxpayer.
And here I was, with steam issuing from my ears in great geyserish spouts. Even if we agree that dissident-jailing dictators such as Castro are the heroes of the working man, I thought, what in the name of all that’s sacred does that have to do with London?
And then I started to think back. Cuddly, newt-loving Ken. Uncompromising, man-of-principle Ken. Believer in the collective and the good fight against evil capitalist plutocrats. And I thought: the man’s a raving egomaniac. He plasters pictures of his horrible grinning fizzog all over every pamphlet he issues.
He “brands” â€“ like the worst sort of brand-obsessed capitalist running-dog â€“ every poster with his absurd “Mayor of LondON” slogan.
He breaks his promise to defend the noble Routemaster (“only some ghastly sort of dehumanised moron would actually want to get rid of Routemasters” â€“ remember that, ye bampot?) and mucks up the centre of town with his junction-blocking, bursting-into-flames, freeloader-encouraging bendy buses.
He congratulates himself on the Olympics. He invites gay-hating, wifebeater-condoning mullahs to tea. He sticks up for Mao Zedong. He makes boorish remarks about concentration camps to Jewish reporters. He suggests a couple of Iraqi businessmen who rubbed him up the wrong way might “go back to Iran and try their luck with the ayatollahs”.
And â€“ worst of all â€“ he raises the cost of public transport. “The headlines about big cash fare increases today show that the savings are now to be found on Oyster,” he chirped happily, as if those Oyster cards had just become better value because â€“ look! â€“ we’ve made everything else much worse value.
What on earth would possess us to put this man, I found myself thinking, in charge of a sub-post-office, still less a city?
If only Leith knew the half of it!