So, what was true? What was embroidered? Mmmm. It was a hard read, turgid in places but the devil is in the detail and I think this is certainly Mr. Livingstone's voice. With the opprobrium heaped upon him I suspect he is an accurate diarist and has been very careful with the names and faces that have crossed his path.
I haven't kept notes reading the text but his portrayal of pliant hacks `obeying orders' out to smear him, reveal not so much a paranoia but more a patient acceptance of the dreks and their employers who confuse investigative journalism with `..has anyone here been raped and speaks English?' There doesn't appear to be any skeletons in his closet and this must frustrate those who can't put him down by debate.
He re-confirms New Labour's image `freakery' and I laughed at his realisation that he was manoeuvred just far enough away to be kept out of camera shot when in the same hall as Blair or Brown. A touch of the `Alastair Campbells' there then.
For someone not educated at `Oxbridge', with a `tick the boxes C.V.' and a dole out the `smarties' PPE degree, [sorry, my despair at the current crop of politicians] he reveals an innate intelligence [`cunning' to his detractors] and a remarkable ability to get on with the common man. I think he senses the basic integrity of people and wants their better nature to prevail. His initial success as an independent candidate for London's mayor confirms this connection.
IMO two episodes stand out. The first relayed to him by Brian Walden after an interview, where Walden admitted that it was only with Enoch Powell and himself who answered every one of his question directly. Whether you agree with him or not is beside the point. I think most people, given time, recognise a fraud [OK, OK so it took a lot of people too long to see through Blair's grin for all seasons] but I don't think Mr Livingstone is one. The second was his speech given after the London bombings; that came from the heart and revealed the passion that must lie below his studied blandness.
Digging through the detail reveals a humanist and a multi-culturalist comfortable in his own skin, though however thick, I suspect he must despair when media hacks resort to personal insult rather than reasoned comment. I don't share his politics; Marxist group 4 or Communist's `r' Us whatever, but he does put his finger on the long term lack of investment that's given us a service industry and a lack of manufacturing base more prone to violent boom busts than some of our neighbours.
He didn't need to bash Boris; I'm sure Londoners are canny enough to spot someone who cares, who has a passion for the job and wants to work 24/7 for them. Continue to trust the electorate Ken. Argue your record.
Put your political opinions aside, it's a difficult but interesting read.
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