Ken Livingstone (still, at the time of writing, Labour’s candidate for London mayor) has made opposition to the Tory/Lib Dem cuts the absolute crux of his re-election campaign. As he put it: “Let’s make the mayoral election a referendum on the cuts. We will fight these cuts, line by line by line.”
Tomorrow, of course, is the day of the spending review; the day those very cuts are announced; quite possibly the most important day in British politics of the next five years. So where will Ken be fighting the cuts from tomorrow? Well, Malta, in fact.
Tomorrow, as thousands of public sector workers learn their fates, the one-man scourge of the Tories will not be on a demo, or a picket line, or even in a TV studio. He’ll be in a five-star Hilton hotel on a Mediterranean island giving a paid-for speech to a convention of travel agents.
With exquisite irony, the event is sponsored by none other than the Telegraph Media Group and one of the other speakers is Boris Johnson’s brother (I wish I could say that we’d arranged all this deliberately, but that would be too much.)
As mayor, of course, Ken was perhaps over-fond of lavish foreign trips to sunny places (Cuba, Venezuela, India, and so on). How reassuring to see that this is yet another key principle he has refused to compromise.
I spoke to the organisers of the Malta junket twenty minutes ago and they tell me that Ken is definitely still coming. The Hilton tells me he’s booked into a suite. The weather in the Med tomorrow will be 21 degrees and sunny. As Britain’s police officers, soldiers and nurses lose their jobs, their self-appointed protector will be able to enjoy the five restaurants and bars, the four outdoor pools, and the Mercanti Beach Club. There’s a party tonight if he makes it in time, and another one (on a cruise ship) tomorrow.
It’s so good to see a politician getting his priorities right.