'I was getting a load of abuse, openly campaigning for lesbian and gay issues,' said Livingstone.
'Loads of people assumed I was gay and I got a lot of flack for all that because I wasn’t going to insult the gay community by saying there’s something wrong with being gay.
'And he [Paddick] was in the closet. I was doing it for decades before he came out.'I'm going to ignore the rather nasty implications of that comment (Straight person dictating that Paddick should've come out sooner*) as I don't think that's actually what Livingstone was trying to say (ditto for his gay banker comments and his very recent "riddled" with gays comment about the Tory party, yes I'm stretching "benefit of the doubt" to it's limits here). However it's clear Ken Livingstone thinks his past actions make him untouchable on LGBT rights. That, I'm afraid to say, is not the case. It's not karma; you don't build up brownie points. Being in favour of LGBT rights should be the default not something that makes you better than others.
The thing that bothers me most is Livingstone's defence of Yusuf al-Qaradawi. I understand politicians often have to engage with people who they'd rather not. David Trimble and Gerry Adams for example! And there's nothing wrong with someone reaching out to another community, even to people who aren't all that pleasant. There's quite a difference though in defending their actions and refusing to accept the evidence that they aren't pleasant. All Livingstone had to say was "Yes, I understand the concerns but I felt it better to engage with him than to shut down a conversation". Instead he says:
"“No. I made no effort to change it, this is what he said, and if I’m asked to judge a person on what I hear them say, or what I read about them in The Sun, sorry but I’m going to believe what I hear.”
I.e. I don't believe he is homophobic! al-Qaradawi has called for the death penalty for homosexuals and this is well-known and documented here. Livingstone's continued defence of these comments shows that either he's not listening or worse he's lying!
He wants to be a Mayor for all Londoners, he even got my 2nd preference at the last mayoral election, but he is unable to admit his mistakes. This makes me very concerned for what he might do in the future and who he might welcome to London.
Livingstone does not deserve to be Mayor again. He suffers from foot-in-mouth syndrome even more than Johnson does (and that's an achievement!) and seems unable to back down once he's said something that comes out the wrong way. He has none of the characteristics of a good leader, and all the characteristics of a very divisive one.
Keep Ken out, for the good of all the communities of London.
*I'll admit I've had my issues with people not coming out in the past on this blog but at all times I was keen to stress it was because their actions (i.e. Nigel Evans) were hypocritical. People not coming out but also not doing anything to hurt others isn't something that bothers me, and I completely sympathise with why they may wish to stay in the closet.
If you feel benevolent and particularly generous, this writer always appreciates things bought for him from his wishlist