When I write a blog about a particular individual, I always spend five minutes checking their history, updating their file and seeing if they have changed their position. It may surprise you to know that I have an almost equal number of politicians on the right and left in each file. I don't think someone is bad because they are a Tory or good because they are on the left. I look to see how effective and honest they are. The ultimate test I apply is as to whether I could tolerate an imaginary night on the beer with them. For example, whilst I'd not hesitate to have a few beers with Tory councillor John Hart and get highly entertained, the thought of an evening stuck with Robert Rams would fill me with dread.
The leader of the London GLA Tories is someone who I've always had firmly in the good guy folder. He's ex army, plain speaking and generally allies himself with sensible causes and the more sensible Tory policies. I've no doubt whatsoever that he'd pass the beer test with flying colours. I have a couple of friends who are senior Tories in his neck of the woods who confirm that he's aon OK guy.
That is why I was shocked to see James tweeting playground level jibes at Ken Livingstone on Twitter. Last night he posted the following :-
Boris works much harder for London than Livingstone did:----------------------------------------
#LazyLivingstone Official figures show that Boris had ... http://bit.ly/FOgTlD
What on earth was he thinking? Does he really think that senior politicians yelling "Kens more lazy than Boris, ner ner ne ner ner" across the playground endears them to anyone? All it does is alienate ordinary people from the politicians who are meant to serve us. I don't care whether Boris lies in bed till 10 am and drinks three bottles of Bollinger a night or whether Ken spends all day tending to his newts, so long as they deliver an adminsitration which is effective. I have my views on who is better, and it won't surprise any regular reader, but I'm not going to go into that here. What I wills ay is that I despair at this type of behaviour.
Anyone who follows London Politics will see the hand of the Tory Campaign Director Lynton Crosby in all of this. He is the master of negative attack politics. He's not the only such shady character. I believe that Peter Mandleson was the archetype malign influence. What disturbs me is the fact that a hitherto sensible and reasonable guy like James has bought into this. I don't expect him to read this and think "I must email Rog T to tell him I've seen the error of my ways". What I will ask him is this. Assuming he's got a normal set of friends, both Labour and Tory (he's keen on sports so it is a reasonable assumption), would he start going on like this at 10pm in the pub to them. I sincerely hope for their sake he doesn't. That is the thing with voters. They are like the friends up the pub, they really find all of this rather puerile.
My advice to James. Stick to telling your story. If Ken Livingstone comes up with a poor policy or says something stupid, by all means point it out. Nobody minds that, but as far as I'm concerned, this Crosby?Mandlesonesque style of campaigning is repulsive and a cancer infecting the whole British Political system. I can speak with a degree of knowledge on this subject. I ask James to consider what happens if you find you have Cancer and you pretend you are fine and don't seek treatment?