Ken Livingstone knows his political history – remember Hillary Clinton’s surprise surge in the 2008 New Hampshire primary after she was filmed “tearing up”? Unlike Hillary, however, who reacted spontaneously to a question, Ken’s tears were in response to his own party political broadcast – something he had presumably seen once or twice before. No doubt entirely by coincidence, this comes a few days after a display of emotion from Boris (in a lift – you might remember it) did him no harm at all.
I’m not saying the tears were fake – Ken has good reason to be unhappy at the moment – but I don’t think the film will provoke the same reaction in most other people. Various Labour supporters, members and at least one Labour councillor reciting (clearly scripted) lines about why London “needed Ken” is not the last scene of Schindler’s List, is it?
Some of the things the “ordinary Londoners” were told to say were the same shameful lies Ken himself has been telling throughout the campaign, including the claim of an average £1000 saving from the fares cut and the old woman crediting him with creating “free bus passes, I’ll never forget that.” As I’ve covered before, free bus passes for old people were introduced in 1973, eight years before Livingstone became leader of the GLC. He was a new backbencher at the time and had nothing to do with it. It is bad enough to tell lies yourself, but it’s just awful to make other people lie on your behalf.
At the end, there was even a knowing eyebrow by Ken to the cynical nature of the whole exercise. “Thanks London,” he said. “I couldn’t have said it better myself.”
Forgive me, therefore, if I don’t need the Kleenex just yet.