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Thursday 3rd November 2011 | 15:23
In exactly six months' time, the 2012 London Mayoral election will take place.
Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson are already knocking lumps out of each other but earlier this week Red Ken went on the offensive against his current bete noir in local government: Hammersmith and Fulham Council.
At a "Tell Ken" public meeting in Hammersmith on Monday, Livingstone's attacked the council's plans to redevelop the Earl's Court estate. (The council insists all current tenants will get a new and better home, but Labour complains that people are being cleared out of the site in an attempt at social engineering.)
Livingstone compared H&F to Dame Shirley Porter's illegal 'gerrymandering' reign in Westminster. He said:
“The big problem we’ve got here in this borough is that the majority party, I have to say, seems to be every bit as bad and corrupt as Westminster Council under Lady Porter. The law, of course, imposed a £48 million fine because she did exactly what this council is doing, forcing poor people out of homes.
“When Lady Porter was found guilty, I was still an MP and that night the former leader of Wandsworth Council, Christopher Chope*, passed me in the Commons and said, ‘Do you know, we did exactly the same thing in Wandsworth – we just weren’t that stupid to put it in writing.’
“I suspect this bunch of crooks running Hammersmith can’t have put it in writing, but they’re doing exactly what Porter did, cleansing working class people out of the borough when they are supposed to represent all classes, and everybody who lives in the borough."
Afterwards, however, a H&F Tory councillor Peter Graham took great exception to being described as a crook.
Here's his exchange with Ken:
PG: A very quick question. I’m one of the local Conservative Councillors...
Ken: I noticed. [Laughs.]
PG: I just wondered if you meant to call me a criminal?
Ken: Oh, yes. I think, frankly, you should all go to prison for what you’re doing in this borough.
PG: You think I should go to prison?
Ken: All of you, all of you. I think it’s what Shirley Porter did, and you’re destroying lives, and you should be ashamed of yourself. And if there’s any justice you will burn in hell and your flesh will be flayed for demons for all eternity.
It's all so Biblical you could momentariily forget that Ken's an atheist.
*FOOTNOTE: I suspect Chris Chope may dispute this version of events.
For the record, Ken proved during the event that he was unafraid of backing strikes. He said: "I would be quite happy to see a great European Day of Action".
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