Ken this week engraved yet another page in his golden treasury of indefensible outbursts, pronouncing that we should “hang a banker a week.” This one went global – Dutch bankers, for instance, could read about Ken wanting to “hang elke week een bankier op,” just the thing to make them feel like moving their business to London. Ken’s spokesman protested to the FT that he’d made the remark “20 or 30 times” before, perhaps not the most brilliant defence ever mounted….
To allow my readers to assess Ken’s famous self-discipline and judgment, here is my list of his main Tourette’s moments as mayor or mayoral candidate, by the date they were first reported. What terrible passions must swirl in this old head! You’ll notice a particular, shall we say, interest in the Third Reich – I particularly loved the way he managed to crowbar Hitler into an attack on the performance of the Northern Line (7 March 2011).
The list is not exhaustive, or I’d be here all day. And note too that it only includes memorably crass statements, not crass policies – or I’d be here all week.
April 2000: Ken complains that press coverage of his financial affairs makes him look like a “Nazi war criminal.”
April 2000: Ken tells NME magazine: “Every year the international financial system kills more people than World War Two. But at least Hitler was mad, you know?”
24 June 2000: After his election as mayor, Ken says British local government has “no more independence than the Vichy regime in France under the Nazis.”
18 May 2001: Livingstone attacks English Heritage as “the biggest threat to the economic vitality and well being of Londoners since Adolf Hitler.” The heritage watchdog has blocked plans for a “very attractive” skyscraper by Gerald Ronson, one of Ken’s donors.
17 November 2001: Livingstone renews his attack on English Heritage over its opposition to the Ronson scheme, calling it “the Taliban of architecture.”
24 November 2001: Ken says that British Muslims who went to Afghanistan to fight for the Taliban (presumably not in an architectural capacity) should not be prosecuted. “We’ve got to accept that these people went off because of a deep sense of injustice about what’s happening in Israel and the West Bank,” he explains.
9 May 2003: On the eve of a campaign to woo American tourists to London, Ken calls George W.Bush a “coward,” the illegally-elected president of a “venal and corrupt administration” and says the US government should be overthrown in the same way as Saddam was overthrown.
31 August 2003: Ken says he is not interested in sport because most PE instructors in his schooldays were “rehabilitated Nazi war criminals.”
17 March 2004: Livingstone says Tory housing policies “created the same scale of housing shortage that Hitler created with five years of bombing.” He promises to “crush” any council that opposes his development plans.
8 April 2004: Ken tells the Guardian: “I just long for the day I wake up and find that the Saudi royal family are swinging from lamp-posts.”
July 2004: Ken hosts the extremist Islamic cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi at City Hall, proclaiming him a “great liberal voice” and later comparing him to the reformist Pope John XXIII. Qaradawi has explicitly supported wife-beating, suicide bombing and the murder of homosexuals and has said that “to be absolved from guilt, a raped woman must have shown good conduct.”
10 January 2005: Defending Qaradawi at a debate in the London Assembly, Livingstone attacks a gay Green assembly member who criticised the visit, Darren Johnson, as “thoroughly dishonest,” “pandering to Islamophobia” and being “used as a stooge by a Zionist front organisation.” He claims that another gay opponent of the visit, the activist Peter Tatchell, has a “long history of Islamophobia.”
10 February 2005: Livingstone harangues a Jewish Evening Standard journalist, Oliver Finegold, asking him whether he was a “German war criminal” and saying he was “just like a concentration camp guard.” He has always refused to apologise to Finegold, saying that he should not have been working for “a load of scumbags and reactionary bigots” with “a history of supporting fascism.”
21 March 2006: Ken tells the Jewish property developers David and Simon Reuben, with whom he is in dispute, to “go back to Iran and try their luck with the ayatollahs, if they don’t like the planning regime or my approach.”
23 March 2006: Informed that the Reubens are actually of Iraqi origin, and were born in India, Ken says: “I would offer a complete apology to the people of Iran to the suggestion that they may be linked in any way to the Reuben brothers. I wasn’t meaning to be offensive to the people of Iran.”
23 March 2006: After the Tory assembly member Brian Coleman accuses Livingstone of anti-semitism, Ken says Coleman is “like Dr Goebbels.”
28 March 2006: Livingstone calls the US ambassador to London, Robert Tuttle, a “chiselling little crook.”
9 April 2006: On a visit to China, Ken refuses to condemn the Tiananmen Square massacre, comparing it to the poll tax riots. “In the same way that Trafalgar Square has had an interesting history, not always a peaceful one, there’s a very clear parallel,” he said. “We’ve had some interesting riots in Trafalgar Square – I mean, only 20 years ago, the poll tax riots, and flames licking up.”
24 October 2006: Livingstone says that discrimination against British Muslims, and French moves to ban the hijab, “carry echoes of Nazi Germany.”
27 March 2007: Ken uses Japan’s role in World War II to attack its embassy for not paying the congestion charge, telling LBC radio: “I think there are several problems with Japan that we could go on about here. Admitting their guilt for all the war crimes would be one thing. So if they’ve not got round to doing that, I doubt they’re too worried about the congestion charge.”
14 February 2008: Livingstone loses his temper with the London Assembly, ranting that they are “sanctimonious hypocrites, every one of you” during their questioning of him over Lee Jasper. When the chair of the meeting calls on him to respect the assembly, he snaps: “Respect has to be earned. You haven’t earned it.”
10 January 2009: On Radio 4’s Today programme, Ken compares the situation in Gaza (then under Israeli bombardment) to the Warsaw Ghetto in Nazi-occupied Poland.
7 March 2011: Ken says Tube performance under Boris is “the worst since Hitler was bombing London in the Blitz.”
4 May 2011: Ken attacks President Obama as a “mobster” for ordering the killing of Osama bin Laden.
7 June 2011: Ken describes Boris Johnson’s chief of staff, Edward Lister, as the “Ratko Mladic of local government.” Ratko Mladic ordered the deaths of 7,000 people at Srebrenica. Edward Lister proposed to charge for the use of a children’s playground.
26 June 2011: Livingstone describes Liberal Democrats as a “venal sub-species.”
18 August 2011: Ken compares Boris Johnson to Adolf Hitler, saying the mayoral election is “a simple choice between good and evil…I don’t think [the choice] has been so clear since the great struggle between Churchill and Hitler.”
18 August 2011: Ken says that anyone who does not vote for him will be punished by the Angel Gabriel, will “burn for ever” and have their “skin flayed for all eternity.”
2 November 2011: Ken’s fiery furnace contracts a bit as he tells Tory councillors in Hammersmith & Fulham that they will “burn in hell” and have their flesh “flayed by demons for all eternity.” Their crime? Redeveloping a council estate.
17 November 2011: Ken asks at a public meeting: “How many people think we should hang George Osborne?”
8 February 2012: Ken says the Tory party is “riddled with” people “indulging in” homosexuality, while claiming that some Labour MPs only got jobs because they were gay.
9 February 2012: Ken warns gay bankers not to leave London, saying: “Would you want to get your penis chopped off? A gay banker would get his penis cut off in Dubai.”
17 February 2012: Ken says that Britain should “hang a banker a week until the others improve.”