Ken Livingstone brings up his health, even though no one's asking

More brilliant publicity for Ken
More brilliant publicity for Ken

Ken’s comparison of Boris Johnson to Hitler and his belief that anyone who votes for him will “burn forever” has set the seal on a calamitous fortnight. It was the splash in yesterday’s Evening Standard, page 3 in today’s Independent (giving me the chance to do my Ken impression on the Sky News paper review last night) and covered in many of the other papers. Ken’s protests that it was only a joke cut little ice from a man with a record as long as his of dodgy mass-murderer smears. Only two months ago, he compared Boris Johnson’s chief of staff to the Bosnian Serb war criminal, Ratko Mladic.

My fellow Telegraph blogger Toby Young, pointing to Ken’s undeniably erratic recent behaviour, has asked semi-seriously whether the 66-year-old Greatest Living Londoner has “gone bonkers.” I think the interview does raise grounds for asking seriously whether Ken is well.

For me, the most telling thing about it was not the repetition of familiar totalitarian smears, but his protestations – apparently not in response to any question by the interviewer, Amber Elliott – about how healthy he was.

As Elliott put it: “He wants to stress that he’s physically ready for the fight… ‘I’ve got a low cholesterol level,’ he explains. ‘My body chemistry is one of the reasons I’m able to run – my doctor says I’ve got the same heart profile as an Olympic runner. I can’t run like a champion athlete, but I can cope with a lot of stress.’

“Later, donning a pair of protective goggles to enter a building site, he adds proudly: ‘And I still don’t need glasses.’”

It’s the second time in recent weeks that Ken has done this. On 31 July he told the Sunday Times: “Last year I lost half a stone after I simply decided to put less on my plate. Now I’ve lost another half. When I had my medical the doctor was in raptures. He said I had the heart of an athlete. I was dead chuffed. I’m going to challenge Johnson to release his medical profile and see which of us has the best.”

Ken is bringing up his health when nobody’s asking. Is it a case of qui s’excuse, s’accuse?

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