March 2006 Archives

Where are the decent policy announcements from Ken Livingstone ? Instead of anything that actually makes life better for the majority of Londoners, without wasting our money, all we seem to get from hm is a weekly "foot in mouth" utterance, where he manages to insult someone or other, for no good reason, making himself look ridiculous, and besmirching the international reputation of London.

The Guardian reports:

Livingstone under fire for likening US ambassador to crook

Hugh Muir
Tuesday March 28, 2006
The Guardian

Ken Livingstone's colourful vocabulary landed him in more hot water yesterday when he likened the US ambassador in London to a "chiselling little crook".

The mayor of London criticised Robert Tuttle while bemoaning the US embassy's insistence that its diplomatic staff should not pay the congestion charge because they view it as a tax. Embassies are exempt from all local tax under the 1961 Vienna convention.

The London Congestion Charge is obviously a tax.

Mr Livingstone told ITV's London Today: "It would actually be quite nice if the American ambassador in Britain could pay the charge that everybody else is paying and not actually try and skive out of it like some chiselling little crook."

How do personal insults, on television, against the US Ambassador, help to make London a better place to live ?

He blamed Mr Tuttle for the impasse. "Since this new ambassador took over in July they have not paid," he said. "When British troops are putting their lives on the line for American foreign policy, it would be quite nice if they paid the congestion charge."

Who believes that Ken Livingstone genuinely supports our troops in Iraq or Afghanistan etc ?

Is he willing to to exempt them from paying the London Congestion Charge tax when they get home ?

Will he be using his vast entertainment budget to fete and celbrate British war veterans ?

It is reported that US embassy staff are ignoring about 300 penalties. Another 55 embassies are also refusing to pay.

Is Ken Livingstone going to personally insult all 55 Ambassadors and their countries ?

Rick Roberts, a US embassy spokesman, said the embassy had decided not to pay the charge for official vehicles on July 1, before Mr Tuttle arrived in Britain, and that he had not been involved in the decision. He declined to discuss the mayor's comments: "The mayor has a tendency to hyperbole. I'm not going to dignify that."

This BBC report appears to show that Ken Livingstone is repeating the behaviour which has led him to be suspended for 4 weeks, for "bringing the Office of Mayor of London into direpute" (currently under appeal).

Firstly he has insulted someone - the precise insults are not that important but Indians, Iraquis, Jews, Iranians and Ayatollahs all come into it somwhere.

What is important is that, after being asked to apologise, he has yet again, arrogantly and publicaly, refused to do so.

Has he not learned any humility from the suspension adjudication against him ?

Even more worryingly, he claims:

Speaking at his Question Time at City Hall, Mr Livingstone said deadlines for planning applications were already being missed and, if this continued, taxpayers may have to cover costs to get building work finished on time.

There is no way that the taxpayers of London should be picking up any extra costs for this private sector property speculation development. The BBC headline mentions a figure of £700 !

Who exactly has signed a contract which would commit the London taxpayer to having to pay such a sum ?

If Ken Livingstone has done so, then the Standards Board for England need to conduct aonther investigation, this time to reassure the public that none of Ken's cronies, relatives or business associates or assorted Labour party financial donors, stand to gain financially from this.

He said: "They (the Reubens) do not have a track record of successfully undertaking major developments, or of working in partnership...and without them, collapsing into squabbling and litigation."

Ken Livingstone is the one with a history of overbudget and late projects, and of futile, expensive litigation - just look at the Tube or the Congestion Charge !

He refused to apologise for his remark in which he told the brothers to "go back (to their own country) and see if they can do better under the ayatollahs".

"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," he said.

Note how the when he does use the word "apology" it is only as part of a further insult.

"I wasn't meaning to be offensive to the people of Iran," he said.

How about starting off by not being offensive to the people of London ?

The BBC reports that the Labour party has named the hitherto secret list of people who made "loans" rather than declarable donations, to the tune of nearly £14 before the General Election.

This list includes Rod Aldridge (£1 million), the chairman of Capita Group plc, who have been given Government contracts for repressive NuLabour mass surveillance and database projects such as the Criminal Records Bureau, and the controversial BBC TV Licence fee database.

However, it is cash cows like the the London Congestion Charge, which went over budget, at the taxpayers expense, but since the Capita contract had the taxpayer over a barrel, (.pdf) they could not be kicked off the project, and it has significantly contributed to the wealth of Capita and of Rod Aldridge.

Who would have guessed that these excessive profits would be used to help to elect the Labour party ?

What do traditonal working class Labour voters think, when they see that their party is now funded by the likes of Richard Caring (£2 million) who owns The Ivy and Le Caprice, some of the most expensive restaurants in London ?

Ken Livingstone has "reviewed" The Ivy in the past.

The BBC have a report about how the Police are increasingly using the unique serial number identifier built into the by now familiar Oyster Card travel smartcard, for criminal investigations.

via Martin Stabe:

BBC Last Updated: Monday, 13 March 2006, 08:14 GMT

Oyster data is 'new police tool'

Police are increasingly turning to Oyster travel cards to track criminals' movements, according to new figures.

The smartcards, used by five million Londoners, record details of each bus, Tube or train journey made by the holder over the previous eight weeks.

In January, police requested journey information 61 times, compared with just seven times in the whole of 2004.

The Metropolitan Police said it was a "straightforward investigative tool" used on a case-by-case basis.

In total, 229 of the 243 requests made by police to access records were granted, the figures disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act show.


A Transport for London spokesman said: "Very few authorised individuals can access this data and there is no bulk disclosure of personal data to third parties for any commercial purposes."

He added that police requests are made under Association of Chief Police Officers' guidance and disclosed in accordance with the Data Protection Act.

A single "request" could cover all the uses of all the Oyster Cards at a specific station for a specific time period.

Remember that the Oyster Card itself stores the travel / payment history for the last few transactions (up to the capacity of the memory on the chip), but that Transport for London have the entire history of any particular Oyster Card on their centralised database systems.

Note that this statement by Transport for London does not preclude bulk transfers and "fishing expeditions" for "national security" or for "the prevention and detection of crime" loopholes in the Data Protection Act.

Similarly, there is no mention of the combination of CCTV surveillance and Oyster Card monitoring of millions of innocent people, rather than just the minority of criminals who are under specific criminal investigation.

Ken Livingstone's statement of support for Sir Ian Blair, the controversial Metropolitan Police Commissioner, as usual ignores the all the unanswered questions which the astonishing secret phone call recording scandal has raised.

Ken's claim that it is all some kind of "Daily Mail campaign" belies the fact that Sir Ian Blair has apologised to the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith for secretly recording the conversation, ironically about the admissability of phone tapping evidence in court, thereby confirming the story.

There does not appear to have been any apology to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, for the recording of their chairmaon's conversations, regarding the Jean Charles de Menezes shooting at Stockwell Tube Station last July, the press and media handling of which, Sir Ian Blair is currently being investigated by the IPCC.

Given the penchant for Labour politicians and their special advisors etc. to rush into print and publish thier memoirs, regardless of secrecy and confidentiality, for as much money as they can get, what record of his daily conversations is Ken Livingstone compiling ?

Why is Sir Ian Blair playing at politics and with media spin, rather than concentrating on doing the job he is paid to do ?

Should he resign ?

The Advertising Standards Authority has finally published their Adjudication on the the offensive Nazi Shepherd Neame Spitfire Ale advert in the Evening Standard newspaper.

Despite a preliminary recommendation to the contrary, the ASA Council have decided that the advert did not breach their CAP Code, the voluntary British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing.

However, Shepherd Neame do appear to have promised not to repeat the advert, which is, in effect, all that would have happened if the ASA had found against them, since this is a voluntary Code of Practice, which is only enforced by "naming and shaming" the offenders, with no legal sanctions.

The Daily Telegraph wrongly misattributed our comments on this blog about this affair to Ken Livingstone, who does not need anyone else to put words into his mouth, whilst he is also putting his foot in it.

Non-broadcast Adjudication about Shepherd Neame Ltd. published on 1st March 2006:

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