A Plea to London

Screenshot_2016-05-03-12-40-21~2Dear London

On Thursday, you get to choose your Mayor for the next 4 years. I don’t get a vote, because I live outside London, but nearly every aspect of life outside my front door is potentially affected by your choice, so I have a request.

Please do not blindly go into the poll on party political issues. So Zac Goldsmith is a Tory, and Sadiq Khan is Labour (there are some other people standing too, I have heard). That is clearly AN issue, but it is far from the most important.

Let me explain why.

We Brits are accustomed to voting for a party rather than a person. In a General Election  (which, let’s face it, is the only time most people bother), our vote serves 3 purposes:

It goes toward the election of your MP. It goes towards the election of the leader of the party concerned as Prime Minister. And it expresses your general support for the package of policies or principles put forward by that party.

The London Mayoral election isn’t like that, because the post is not the same as an MP. He (and so far it has always been a he) is a member of a national party, but is not subject to the whip as MPs are, and he can (and often does) make decisions and policies that their party leaders disagree with.

Ken Livingstone was no servant of Blair and Boris Johnson is clearly not bothered about what Cameron thinks of him!

This election is far more akin to US Presidential elections. It is not uncommon for a Democratic President to be elected at the same time and by the same electorate that chooses a Republican Congress and/or Senate (and vice versa).

London needs a strong, competent and sensible mayor, irrespective of which party he belongs to (within reason clearly. Membership of Respect is definitely a red line issue).

So here is my plea to you Londoners. For one day, put aside your party prejudices and place your vote for whichever candidate you think is the most credible and will be the best advocate for all the people of that great city.

Thank you.

Speak soon

Labenal (@GoonerEll)


On Ironic Banners

I was having a conversation on Facebook with a Gooner friend last night. I was laughing at Tottenham having choked on their once-in-a-lifetime title challenge (which is surely every Gooner’s right) and he said “the thing”.

The thing that has most bothered me about the second half of this most ridiculous of seasons (not just for Arsenal FC).

He said “Finishing second would be bad in the long run. If we finish second, then Wenger would hang on for another year.”

Now as we all know, there has been something of a ruckus amongst Arsenal fans over the last few years that has reached a crescendo as our own title challenge sadly limped off down the tunnel for an early bath.

At one extreme are those who loudly blame Arsène Wenger for everything from high ticket prices to the weather. At the other, some for whom the sun itself shines less brightly than the emanations exuding from his excrement.

I have placed on record my views on this. I admire and respect Mr Wenger and believe he has given more and achieved more for Arsenal FC than we have any right to expect, let alone demand.

I acknowledge of course that he has made mistakes and has failings. And I get angry, upset and frustrated when we lose games and miss out on silverware, but I take this as part and parcel of supporting a club. Nobody wins all the time, unless you play in a boring one-club league like Scotland or France.

Oh, and the fact that this season it’s Leicester that have won the title instead of Chelsea or Man City doesn’t make it any more or less painful to me that we haven’t.*

Of the banners that have been displayed at the Emirates this season, the one that got me most infuriated was this one:

2016-05-03 02.34.37

So while I was having that conversation last night it struck me.

It’s me (and people like me) who embody that slogan. We support Arsenal and want them to succeed, irrespective of the name of the manager or the members of the playing squad.

I genuinely couldn’t give a flying nipple clamp. If Tony Pulis managed an Arsenal team comprised of Gus Caesar, Piers Morgan and Jeremy Corbyn I’d still want us to win the Title.**

And I will never understand any Arsenal fan who thinks that Spurs finishing above Arsenal is a “good thing”, for any reason at all.

So who is it that actually supports Arsenal FC, and who is obsessed with the name on the manager’s door?

Ironic, isn’t it?

Speak soon

Labenal (@GoonerEll)

* And, by the way, very many congratulations to Ranieri, Leicester and their fans. Enjoy the ride.

** Actually, probably not. Not with Morgan, anyway. But you get the point.

On St. Ken of Livingstone

2016-05-01 01.13.35You may have read, perhaps even seen images, of the alleged devastation apparently caused by a tsunami in South Asia on 26 December 2004.

You may also falsely have been led to believe that the good and kind Dr Harold Shipman murdered at least 218 of his patients.

Perhaps you are labouring under the strange and frankly ludicrous impression that the first half of the 20th Century saw not one, but two so-called “World Wars”?

Well, I have some wonderful news.  None of that is true.  All those people supposedly “killed” by the tsunami, Shipman and the wars are actually alive and are living in a bedsit in Clapham.

How do I know this?  Because, and I think I am safe in saying this…

None of these events occured in the presence of Saint Ken of Livingstone.*

It is about time that the World realised, once and for all, that Saint Ken is the true and unchallenged arbiter of a) whether an event occcured, b) whether antisemitism exists and c) in the unlikely event it does exist, what antisemitism is.

I can sense that you’re sceptical.  I shall have to elaborate…

On the BBC’s Daily Politics on 28 April, Ken Livingstone repeated (1m 30 s in) the phrase he had already said on Radio London earlier that morning that “Ive been a member [of the Labour Party] for 47 years and I’ve never heard anyone say anything antisemitic.”

Andrew Neil, bemused, read out a number of *ahem* questionable quotes from MPs, Councillors, mayors and activists, all of whom were Labour Party members, and asked Ken if any of these were antisemitic.  To his credit, Ken admitted that some of these comments were antisemitic, but stood firm that he personally had never heard any antisemitism.

Andrew Neil (like his other guest Nick Clegg, who was clearly trying to suppress outright laughter at Ken’s awkward wriggling) was by now totally confused. Then followed the key (and most revealing) part of the interview, the true glory of which can truly be seen and marvelled at from 7m 45s into the Daily Politics clip.  Just in case you can’t access it, however, I will quote it in full….

AN: “maybe you don’t see antisemitism because you set a very high bar for it. After all you’re the man that welcomed Yusuf Al-Qaridawadawi [sic] to London in 2005. You called him a ‘progressive voice’. This is a man who called for Jews and homosexuals to be killed. Is that not antisemitic?”

HHKL: “No. This is the man [Al-Qaradawi] who called on Muslims around the world to donate blood after the attacks of 9/11. When he came to London, I went with him to the Regent’s Park Mosque where I heard him say “no man should hit a woman and you should not discriminate against homosexuals”, so I can’t equate what I heard him say with what (the next bit is a little garbled, but something along the lines of) you’re saying about him”.

AN: “He has called for Jews to be killed. You embraced him. A man who made a clear antisemitic statement. Is that not antisemitic?”

HHKL: “He made no antisemitic statement while he was a … here in London. I mean this stuff has come up more recently, that’s fine, but I’m speaking…”

AN: “Didn’t you know any of this?”

HHKL: “No. All I knew was he was the man who said…”

AN: “Did you do due diligence on him?”

HHKL: “I don’t investigate people.”

AN: “You don’t worry about the kind of people you might be sharing platforms with? I mean you talk about women, he [Al-Qaradawi] also said: ‘To be absolved from guilt, a raped woman must have shown good conduct.”

HHKL: “Well none of that equates with what he said in my presence at the Regent’s Park Mosque.”

AN: “Sure, but Hitler was kind to dogs!”

HHKL: “No. He advoca… he was saying there, at the Regent’s Park Mosque: ‘No Muslim should hit his wife and there should be no activity against homosexuals.’ ”

AN: “And you didn’t know that he thought Jews should be killed?”

HHKL: “No. I mean he didn’t say anything like that when he was there at City Hall or at the Regent’s Park Mosque.”

And there, dear readers, we have it.  If it wasn’t said in the saintly Mr (what IS the Catholic Church waiting for? Why hasn’t he yet been beatified?) Livingstone’s holy presence, then it simply didn’t happen.

Speak soon

Labenal (@GoonerEll)

* To be absolutely accurate, Ken was born before VJ Day, but well after the war in Europe had ended. I am not sure even Ken can claim to remember what was happening on the other side of the globe in his first few months of life!