Ken Livingstone yesterday compared Boris Johnson’s chief of staff to a mass murderer. On a visit to Bromley, he called Eddie Lister, the former leader of Wandsworth Council, “the beast of Wandsworth” and “the Ratko Mladic of local government.”
Ratko Mladic is a Bosnian Serb general who has been indicted for crimes against humanity including terror attacks against civilians, forced deportations, hostage-taking, torture, kidnapping, mass rape, and murder, all carried out as part of a campaign of genocide to cleanse a European country of its entire Muslim population.
Eddie Lister is a local politician whose former council wants to charge people to use a children’s playground.
How can the rest of us have missed the obvious equivalence between these two standard-bearers of evil? As so often in the past, London is indebted to Ken’s forensic analytical skills and famously sure touch on matters of race and genocide. I know the 8,000 people killed on Mladic’s orders in Srebrenica would get the parallel immediately (if they were still alive, of course) and their relatives won’t mind at all.
I mostly see Ken these days as a sad old joke, but this is sort of chilling. Even as a gag, it demonstrates how unbelievably offensive and lacking in proportion he can be. Will the victims of Srebrenica, and Lister, get an apology? Don’t bet on it: Ken doesn’t do sorry.
PS: All credit to the Guardian’s resident Ken groupie, Dave Hill, for the Mladic quote, buried right at the end of a typically wordy puff-piece for the big man. It’s been a long wait, Dave – but finally you got a story!