WHY JONATHAN FREEDLAND IS WRONG TO URGE US TO VOTE FOR KEN
Jonathan Freedland gives his vote to Ken Livingstone ( JC, April 11), but misinterprets the concerns many of us have about the mayor. Being involved in the London political scene over many years, I take issue with Mr Livingstone, not only because of his views on Jewish and Israeli issues, but due to his failure in management. As an example, in the current campaign, his response on the issue of the closure of London post offices is to declare that he will use his budget to keep them open. Yet he knows he does not have the authority and cannot deploy his mayoral resources for that purpose.
The other argument Mr Freedland offers in support of Mr Livingstone is that he will confront the right wing. But shouldn’t we expect rather more from the mayor? It is a massive management job and the mayor, like any other CEO, has to provide a positive vision and sound direction and also ensure a cabinet of outstanding talent. Mr Livingstone’s appointments, as we know, do not possess that level of skill or integrity. Professor Eric Moonman Beacon Hill, London N7
Jonathan Freedland’s playing of the BNP card in his plea for Jewish Londoners to vote for Livingstone was pure scaremongering. He neglects to say, of course, that Boris Johnson has “utterly and unreservedly” condemned the BNP.
Freedland’s argument that, when we enter the polling booth, we should somehow forget about Livingstone’s antisemitic and anti-Zionist diatribes and remember only “what he does for London” will not wash either. It’s not as if Livingstone has held back from exploiting his City Hall platform to express those views. So if it’s sauce for the mayoral goose, Freedland can hardly cry foul if voters regard it as sauce for the ballot-box gander.
Fortunately there are many other reasons to vote Livingstone out and to elect Boris Johnson. Livingstone has presided over a City Hall where standards have fallen far short of those recommended by Lord Nolan for public life. The police are investigating seven enterprises funded by the London Development Agency; senior officials in City Hall were picked for their Trotskyite pedigree rather than their professional competence; and public servants at City Hall assisted Livingstone (in contravention of their employment contracts) in campaigning. Jonathan Hoffman firstname.lastname@example.org
Jonathan Freedland says that his vote for a London mayor would be based on what the candidate would do for London as a whole. By showing his affection for supporters of Islamic terrorism, is Ken Livingstone therefore displaying what he thinks is good for London as a whole? The killings of 7/7 were not good for London as a whole. To me as a Jew and a Zionist, any candidate’s attitude to Jews, Israel and Zionism is as important to me as the congestion charge, bendy buses or the financial probity of those who work for the London Assembly. Dr Michael Mitchell email@example.com
Using Jonathan Freedland’s rationale, if Hitler had been standing for Mayor of Berlin, Jewish Berliners should have voted for him on the basis that crime was down and the streets were clean. Harry Levy Evelyn Drive, Hatch End.HA5
Jonathan Freedland is right to say that Jews should not vote in the London mayoral elections according to “our own particular sectional interests”, but because of what Mr Livingstone “does for London as a whole”.
The trouble is that the examples of Livingstone’s behaviour which Mr Freedland cites are not just a problem for Jewish “sectional interests”. Embracing Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi is not just offensive to Jews; Al-Qaradawi is an Islamist extremist who supports suicide bombings, is equivocal in condemning rape and endorses the death penalty for homosexuality. For Livingstone to hug such a man should be repugnant to all Londoners, and show his unsuitability to be mayor. Michael Grenfell Hodford Road, London NW11
Mr Freedland listed a few examples of Livingstone’s actions which caused offence to the Jewish community, but has omitted the numerous actions which are offensive to all Londoners regardless of race, gender, religion or politics. As a Londoner and a Jew, I think we need a radical change from this despot who rides roughshod over the London Assembly and most of his constituents. There may not be an ideal candidate, but most are more ideal than Livingstone. Maxine Libson Ravenscroft Avenue, London NW11
Jonathan Freedland is misguided. Because of the significance of London as a world capital, the mayor of London has a far greater responsibility than getting the traffic moving. When Mr Livingstone gives a platform to a racist, anti-Zionist, homophobic, Jew-hater, it gives legitimacy to those views. That is why, irrespective of religion or race, if we care about London, we cannot vote for Mr Livingstone. Ian Sheridan Kingston upon Thames, Surrey
There are three main reasons why, unlike Jonathan Freedland, I will not be voting for Ken Livingstone, who has previously won my vote — none to do with Jewish issues. First, he has bent over backwards to protect corrupt cronies. Second, while he has been good for London in a number of ways, he has wasted much of his energy espousing causes such as welcoming hate-mongers like Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Thirdly, Livingstone has already had eight years in office and it’s about time he made way for new, bright sparks with fresh ideas. If American presidents have a maximum of two four-year terms, why should the London mayor have more? David Sassoon Schools Support Services Ltd Finchley, London N3
As I understand it, Mr Freedland is urging London’s Jews to vote for an autocratic politician who willingly embraces dangerous extremists; distributes large sums of money to dubious organisations; shows utter contempt for the democratically elected London Assembly; and, here comes the crunch, is not, by Mr Freedland’s own admission, best for Jews.
Given that London’s Jewish community is hard-working, generally law-abiding and loyal, it might well be better argued that what is best for the Jews is best for London. Michael Lazarus The Ridgeway Herts EN6 4BG
Jonathan Freedland argues that we should ignore Ken Livingstone’s record of offending the Jewish community when voting because it has nothing to do with running London. On the contrary, since the Mayor of London has no responsibility for foreign affairs, when Mr Livingstone uses his office as a platform from which to make comments which offend the Jewish community, that is an abuse of his office.
By contrast, Boris Johnson has said that since foreign affairs are not the responsibility of the mayor, if he wins, he will stick to running London. For Jewish Londoners and all friends of Israel, it is an easy choice. J Fluss firstname.lastname@example.org
I do admire Jonathan Freedland’s attempt to persuade JC readers to vote Livingstone into office again. Freedland admits that Livingstone has said some pretty unpleasant things and reminds us how Livingstone embraced a radical sheikh. In fact, the first half of Freedland’s article is a powerful argument for readers to reject Livingstone.
In his rather subtle way, Freedland has ensured that the community will think twice before voting for Ken. I would even go so far as to suggest that Freedland might be welcomed by the other side as a speechwriter. Edward Bowman Carlton Close, London NW3 7UA