ConservativeHome reports on a speech by David Cameron reminding Londoners of Ken Livingstone’s record of meeting with the IRA in the 1980’s and his comments to Evening Standard reporter Oliver Finegold – I can see a few problems with this approach:
Governments have long had contact with the IRA, the biggest difference between them and Livingstone is he did so publicly and Ministers did so in secret.
In the end history shows that dialogue was the route to a lasting settlement in Northern Ireland so why is Cameron giving Livingstone the chance to say ‘I told you so’?
The Finegold comments were made three years ago, although undeniably offensive they’re ancient history and when you’ve been condemned in recent weeks for using the word ‘gimmick’ to describe visits to Auschwitz (regardless of the context) it’s probably not a good idea to talk about offending London’s Jewish community.
It probably also doesn’t help when your own candidate has written comments some find offensive.
As with Boris, Cameron doesn’t seem to understand that London politics in the 1980’s give the Tories little to shout about in the minds of many Londoners.
When Livingstone was advocating equal rights for women, ethnic minorities, gays and lesbians the Tory party condemned him for ‘political correctness’ and brought in the homophobic Section 28.
And when yours is the party which hindered London’s development for 14 years by removing its elected voice because you didn’t like the message some might think it’d be best to hush up about the 1980’s.
Even if none of the above were true Londoners deserve the debate over who should be the next Mayor to be rooted in the issues of 2008.
An entire generation voters has been born since the days of the GLC and harking back to Livingstone’s record in the 80’s isn’t the best way to engage them or deal with the issues they face.