Ad agency CEO reacts angrily to “actor” claims over Livingstone PEB

13th April, 2012 3:18 pm

After claims emerged that Ken Livingstone’s Party Election Broadcast featured “actors”, Matthew Charlton, the CEO of BETC London (the agency that produced the PEB) has reacted angrily – releasing the following statement:

“For anybody to claim that the people featured in the Ken Livingstone broadcast  are not valid voices in the debate is nothing short of a disgrace. The reason the film works is because it actually represents real truth. These are not actors but peoples’ mums and dads, brothers and sisters. People who never have a voice but on Wednesday night for 3 minutes did. Those who aim to diminish this through  picking apart  the process of making it are,  I am afraid,  trying to diminish the voice of the ordinary people.”

“When Patricia, the old lady in the film, thanks Ken for the free bus pass, she does it because she really means it. It’s just simple truth.  Does anyone really think that she is not speaking from the heart or that she doesn’t deserve to be heard for once in her life on prime time on the BBC?? I for one find her more compelling and emotional viewing than anything else I have seen throughout the election and am not prepared to  sit back back and allow  her voice to be diminished or devalued.”

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  • Labour-uncut appears to have developed into a twaddle magnet. Does anyone take it seriously?

    • AlanGiles

      It seems to be much admired by the “Tony-can-do-no-wrong” brigade, and I have seen things on it that had you or me written it on here would have been regarded as a grave act of disloyalty.

      I think they are the “labour” equivalent of the Tory “No Turning Back” group, with their own versions of Bill Cash, Tony Marlowe and Theresa Gorman.

      I think frankly they have very questionable and rather sinister motives.

      • Andy

        Their motive at the moment seems to be to undermine Labour candidates. 

        • john_zims

          Ken’s doing that by himself,he doesn’t need any help.

      • “I think frankly they have very questionable and rather sinister motives”

        You put it so politely!

        There’s an interesting piece on this by Owen Jones in today’s Independent: 

        • AlanGiles

          Owen’s a good lad, and this piece from the article you quote, dave, got me thinking:

          “And then there are Blairite ultras in Ken’s own party, savaging him on websites such as Labour Uncut, who have never forgiven him for winning two major elections precisely by rejecting the New Labour formula. They attempt to kid themselves that Labour should have fielded a Blairite candidate”

          Of course –  there are some – not a million miles away from LL who wanted Oona King to be the candidate and fought hard for her. One of the Blair favourites of course.

          Added to the fact she lost to Ken, she originally lost her Westminster seat to none other than George Galloway…..

          Of course all this might be totally unconnected, but if i were a gambling man (I’m not) I strongly suspect the Labour candidate for 2016 will be Oona, because let’s be honest the onslaught Livingstone is getting – from his own side – has, I feel, virtually finished his chances off.

          • Andy

            Labour Uncut is a very peculiar website. I like  Tony Blair, but I haven’t let it take over my entire life. Some of these people read like they belong to some weird cult. 

          • I’ve noticed a form of group-think developing within the Blairite clique. And their shared terminology is becoming less amenable to the unconverted.
            Give it a few more years and no one will understand a word they say.

          • OldSlaughter

            Owen Jones lies about other people’s taxes. Ken lies about his own. Made for each other I guess. 

          • AlanGiles

            “Owen Jones lies about other people’s taxes”.I have always found his writing to be honest and intelligent, with a wisdom that belies his years.

          • OldSlaughter

            He is not an idiot. Just dishonest. Like so many who wear party stripes, his side can do no wrong.

            Hence his going on the BBC and lying about the tax paid by cabinet members.

            Hence the use of smears to accuse Boris of racism above.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas

            Alan Giles,

            I’ll agree with you on the outcome – Ken losing, and probably by some wide margin – but I do think that it is an equal opportunities onslaught, not a Blairite plot.

            No one wants Ken, right across the spectrum, apart from a shrinking group of loyalists.  At every point, from his anti-semitism, to his fake piety to Allah (“peace be upon him”) while addressing Islamic voters while elsewhere publicising his atheism, to his tax affairs, to his support for the torturing dictator in Venezuela, his blind eye on Iran (and taking their money), to his gullibility on socialism, and the fact that his electoral “promises” on fares, EMA and so on are proven to be unachievable and in some cases not in the Mayor’s powers, he has given every voter a reason not to cross his box.

            The real question is with his serial treachery to the Labour Party and to our country over 2 decades, how the hell Victoria Street ever managed to find themselves n the position where he is the official Labour candidate.  Dirty deeds not done by the party of control freaks. He could have been quietly assassinated (in the political sense) by Victoria Street 2 years ago, and Labour now be fielding an altogether less toxic candidate who may actually win.

            Ken will however reaffirm the dictum that all political careers end in failure, in his case in the first week of May 2012.

          • AlanGiles

            Well Jaime I believe you are a doctor so you cannot be exactly poor. Neither am I, so to that extent KL losing will not directly affect us, BUT it will affect a great many poorer people in London, because frankly Johnson has no interest in them. he is far more interested in the welfare of the people who live and work in the City of London.

            You are not a Labour supporter, fair enough, but you do wonder why there has been such a campaign by the Labour Uncut shower to denigrate him so fully. This has been done for some reason, and if I may be frank, this sudden faux outrage that many Labour supporters have suddenly developed about Livingstone’s supposed “ant-semitism” – I wonder how many of them have been concerned about it before, or have never laughed at a Jewish joke. I used to work with a Jewish man who told some fantastic jokes, which of course I would not be allowed to repeat here, but he was witty and funny and as I recall a great supporter of Ken Livingstone.

          • mattystiles

             Jaime is a buffoon.  Chavez is a long way from being a dictator and Ken is a long way from being anti-semitic. 

          • GuyM

            Chavez is a very short way from becoming a dictator…

          • aracataca

            Alan I am really impressed with your psychic powers given that you seem able to foresee the result of the Mayoral election before a single vote has been cast. Did you get these powers from from Mystic Meg?

          • AlanGiles

            LABOUR supporters are being harder on Ken Livingstone than the Tories are. That is if you regard “labour Uncut” and people Dan Hodges and Jonathan Roberts  “Labour” supporters

            Are you able to  read anything and understand it. I ask because if you had bothered to read what I have written on this thread and others you will see I have been trying to defend Livingstone.

            But don’t let fact get in the way of your puerile little tantrums.

          • aracataca

            Jaime (along with Alan) it seems that you have acquired psychic powers and can foresee the result of the Mayoral election before a single vote has been cast. Can you tell me where you got these powers from as I would like some. Was it from Mystic Meg?

          • AlanGiles

            You’ve done the “Mystic Meg” joke twice in two minutes.

            Little things pledase little minds. Never mind you’ll be back at school on Monday.

          • aracataca

            ‘Pledase’ – What does this word mean? I have not seen it before.

          • jaime taurosangastre candelas


            no I don’t have the psychic powers,  I rely on my sense of probabilities.

            If Ken wins in May, I will admit that I was completely wrong, and wish him every success.  I do not think that I will have to do that, but I am prepared to do so.

          • GuyM

            I have to say I think it very much still in the balance.

            It goes to show that UK politics has polarised so much of the electorate that you can have a deeply flawed candidate like Ken Livingstone on one side or the other and their vote will largely hold up.

            It would appear ethics is secondary to party loyalty to most….. which rather backs my view that the public get the politicians they deserve.

          • aracataca

            Never thought I’d say it Guy- you are correct it is still very much in the balance. Nobody really knows whether Ken or Lord Snooty will win. 

          • Holly

            Being stupid,
            why don’t Labour dump him, and get someone else?If the newby was favourable to those voting(Boris), and acceptable to some of ‘Ken’s’ lot(better with Ken), why not bite the bullet?If Ken’s gonna lose, what is there to lose?

          • aracataca

            This would please you Alan wouldn’t it as you want Ken to lose, no? As somebody who you have accused of being a ‘Blairite’ whatever that means I would like to categorically state that I want Ken to win and I hope that he does.

          • AlanGiles

            If you had bothered to read what I had written elsewhere you would see this is NOT the case.

            What an idiot you make yourself by trying to make some stupid remark.

          • aracataca

            I thought you wanted Jenny Jones to win. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

          • AlanGiles

            I think you are being deliberatly thick. Jenny Jones cannot win. We all know that there can only be a win for Tory or Labour, and I have made my position quite clear on where I stand – despite your trying to twist my words.

            Now would you please go and pester somebody else.

  • I’ve spoken to councillor Mike Harris about this  the position is that they were not hired hands who acted in the PEB they were people that were paid to make an appearance

    • Hugh

       “they were not hired hands who acted in the PEB they were people that were paid to make an appearance”

      Spin is dead; long live spin.

  • **Update** they weren’t ‘paid’ they were given ‘expenses’ ( if they were ‘paid’ they’d probably have to declare it to HMRC)

  • Complaints should be lodged to the Press Complaints Commission 

    • Andrew

      You clearly don’t know that the PCC will not look at anything unless you are directly connected with the case. That’s one of the reasons it is absolutely useless

  • Daveamundo

    ” These are not actors but peoples’ mums and dads, brothers and sisters. “Actors have relatives too….. 

    • Hugh

       Whereas with Ad agency directors it’s hard to be sure.

  • Anna

    Unfortunately even this response shows what is wrong with Livingstone’s campaign. The claim by the old lady that Ken got her free travel is wrong. Free travel for the elderly has never been the responsibility of him to either give or take away. Whoever scripted those words has, I am afraid, put lies in her mouth.

  • GuyM

    Wonder how many were Labour members who knew exactly which bit of public space Ken would be in at a given time so they could have their “surprise” chat with him?

    Also this sort of marketing/comms is pretty inane, just as when you see it done commercially or through a news channel. 1, 2 or 5 people “on the street” is an irrelevance statistically. They might be the only 5 Labour voters in London for all intents and purposes.

    You’d be worried if anyone would say to themselves “I wasn’t going to vote Ken, but that old women who I’ve never met in that Labour party advert has convinced me”. Marketing/comms doesn’t work that way.

    This is of course simply mood music, designed to create a feeling, part of a number of treatments hoping to move people down the scale from aware to acting i.e. voting Labour (the AIDA model). It panders to the worst form of qualitative manipulation and only works because the electorate is pretty dumb.

  • There was me thinking that the England Pensioner Bus Pass was law passed down from Central Government & nothing that Ken had done.

  • CarlottaVance

    “When Patricia, the old lady in the film, thanks Ken for the free bus pass, she does it because she really means it. It’s just simple truth. ”

    But the ‘simple truth’ is that Ken did not give Patricia her free bus pass – the GLC started that in 1973… I suppose Ken may have been Mayor when Patricia qualified…..but the suggestion that Ken ‘created it’ is wrong.

    • Tellthetruthandshameken

      Well said – like Blair Con Livingstone believes his own lies. The lie that Con introduced the pass the pass was spread by Con et al. during the previous election. I have no doubt that Patricia is genuine in her gratitude but she was misled and manipulated. More fool  the South African director of the video for not checking the facts before spreading a lie.  Hence, his indignation – sloppy idiot.

  • I just noticed the very carefully phrased ‘faux outrage’ – “For anybody to claim that the people featured in the Ken Livingstone broadcast are not valid voices in the debate is nothing short of a disgrace.”  It doesn’t catergorically say they weren’t paid.

  • AlanGiles

    I had never heard of Atul Hatwal who writes nearly all the anti-Livingstone stuff,  (well, I don’t suppose he has heard of me) but not only is he the associate editor of Labour Uncut, but along with Dan Hodges runs this PR company:

    I just include the info for anyone who may be interested – perhaps Lynton Crosbie employs the company for PR for boris Johnson?

    • mattystiles

      The PR company is called Fifth Column says it all really.  For those unaware of its origins see

      • AlanGiles

        Yes it is an interesting name for such a company isn’t it?. The Hodges/Hatwal version isn’t even clandestine, because their aims are so obvious. As their recommendations date from 2003/2004, it makes you wonder who is bankrolling such an obscure little company – and why.

  • The lady doth protest too much methinks. Dry your eyes Princess, you’ve been busted x

  • Mark Myword

    I live in the north so do not have a direct interest in the election. I have been following the twists and turns of the campaign, and of this controversy, with fascination. I have not seen the PEB, but I have been following it throught the day and if I am right the following statements are true: (1) the participants were not (all?) professional actors, (2) some people, not actors but also not entirely clear how they were chosen or if their correct names were used, received expenses and recited some prescripted lines. Their contributions were then edited into a ‘professional’ PEB, (3) Ken cried when he saw the final PEB. I have no problems with either (1) or (2). A professional approach to putting a message across is required and expected. But Ken crying – come on. Who does he thinking he’s kidding. Ken’s as tough as old boots without an ounce of sentimentality in his entire body.

  • Hugh

    In other news today the film crew for Steven Spielberg’s new blockbuster were pleasantly surprised when 150 ordinary mums and dads, brothers and sisters turned up on set just in time for shooting the movie’s battle scene. 

    “It was extraordinary good luck,” said Stevie, “and they were jolly good sports to agree to dress up as barbarians, so we gave them £85 each in expenses .

    “I was quite choked up, to tell you the truth.”

    • If that’s the best you can do in support of Johnson’s candidacy is doesn’t say much in his favour.

      • GuyM

        I thought it was very funny and rather sums up the farce Livingstone’s campaign has become.

      • Hugh

        Sorry, I forgot team Ken don’t like negative campaigning – an antipathy that curiously dates from about the time his tax affairs came to the fore.

        Well, I suppose I could make something up (a bit like crediting Ken with introducing free bus passes): I’d like to thank Boris for seeing us through the blitz and fighting off Jerry to defeat the tyranny of Nazism. God bless ya, Mr Johnson.

        But, actually, I don’t particularly hold a torch for Boris, amusing though he can be. I just happen to think Livingstone is peculiarly cynical, hypocritical and dishonest,  and that public life would be better off without him.

        • But this is politics, not a beauty contest.

          One way of deciding who to cast your vote is by comparing policies.

          How about these policies from Ken:

          Cut fares by 7 per cent – saving citizens an estimated £1,000 over his term of office.Defend the Freedom Pass and aim to hold the qualification age to 60 everywhere in London.Restore the £30 per week education maintenance allowance.Introduce new private-sector rent regulations to provide more security and ensure affordability for tenants.Other ideas include trying to switch public pension investment funds from the stock market to housing to fund a 10-year, half-million social homes programme and cut Londoners’ annual energy bills by supplying residents through Transport for London – making use of TfL’s reduced purchasing rates.Other proposals include extending the docklands light railway to Barking and take the Croydon tramlink out to Crystal Palace, and looking at putting new electric powered buses – built in London – onto London’s roads.

          What’s Johnson got to offer?

          • Hugh

            Another way is to decide that the character of the politician in question makes the policy promises (and costings), even if you did agree with them, entirely worthless. Yet another is to determine that the difference between the candidates’ policies is not so great that it would be worth encouraging the idea that politicians can be successful by routinely lying (going well beyond the usual spin), playing identity politics, and generally treating voters with contempt. A final way might be to decide what you’d like the phrase “This is politics” to mean in future, and decide which candidate is most likely to take you there, or at least less likely to take you away from it.

          • Tellthetruthandshameken

            Yes, great policies BUT in the past Livingstone broke so many promises do you really believe he will deliver?  Ken’s is a Santa Claus campaign. 

    • JoeDM

       £85 in expenses. 

      I hope they paid their taxes in full on that. 

      I hope theydidn’t have it paid into a Ltd company and then paid as dividend or expenses with no PAYE or NI,   a la Livingstone.

  • Brian Cooke

    If Livingstone had anything whatsoever to do with introducing the free buss pass you might have a point. But as he didn’t it is more Labour rubbish. And it was Labour that raised the age limit from 60 too.

  • Pingback: Livingstone looks to shift focus back to policy as “disgraceful” attacks intensify | Left Foot Forward()

  • Pingback: Livingstone looks to shift focus back to policy as “disgraceful” attacks intensify | Left Foot Forward()

  • TellTheTruth

    I’m sure that Patricia was genuine but the ad. agency and Livingstone must have know that she was mistaken – the Freedom Pass ie her bus pass was introduced in 1973 that is 7 years before Livingstone became its leader. But as in the last election the false claim that Livingstone was responsible is being repeated. Shame.

  • Tellthetruthandshameken

    The latest estimate is that Con by using company underpaid tax of about £77,000 – 3 nurses salary? His claim that he had to set up a company is utter nonsense – as a sole trader he could have claim the salaries of his employees (including his wife) as tax deductible expenses. Then we get his condemnation of the Zill traffic lanes – approved in a contact HE signed. What a POS.

    • John Ruddy

      Except thats not what the HMRC wants you to do. It says that if you employ people, you should set up a company. The fact that you are not forced to is neither here nor there.

      • Tellthetruthandshameken

        So, Livingstone had a choice and chose the one he falsely accused Johnson of taking. Can you direct me to HMRC’s encouragement to set-up a company if employing someone. It’s certainly news to me and I have employed people.  

  • Pingback: Ken’s pre-planned tears at scripted actors. | Boris Backer.()

  • treborc1

    Bloody hell the Boris lot are here in full, never seen so many Boris people in one place.

    • AlanGiles

      Not just the Broris fans – we have the more overwrought Labour types here who deliberately misread what you write giving it the opposite meaning (i.e. aracataca  ). 

      I can never understand why Mark doesn’t look at some of the junk that gets posted on this board                   

      • GuyM

        Firstly, I’ve decided to apologise to you and try to be civil, or maybe best try and ignore responding to your posts. I suggest we studiously ignore each other exist as we clearly strongly disagree.

        Secondly, on LL moderation, the site is classed as for “Open Debate”, partly though as an acknowledgement that Mark has a life to lead and vetting every post and all content probably would mean he’d never see daylight for months on end.

        Maybe cut him some slack and I say this as obviously not sympathetic to his politics but very sympathetic to his having to run this site.

        Anyway, enjoy your day Alan.

        • AlanGiles

          Thank you Guy. When I was referring to “junk” on this occassion, I actually wasn’t referring to you, but to some vexacious poster, (Aracataca) who was suggesting I was speaking against Livingstone, when – as you know – I was doing my best to defend him. He/she made several posts suggesting the opposite of what I had actually written – even you have never done that.


          But thanks for your message. Good night

  • Plutonian

    “Does anyone really think that she is not speaking from the heart”
    Yeah, me. She’s very clearly reading the thing.

  • Amber Star

    Ken Livingstone was a member of the GLC in 1973 when the Freedom Pass was introduced – so too bad for those who are calling the lady a ‘liar’.

    • Amber Star

       And what was Boris doing in 1973? He was off to boarding school where he was to be prep’d for going to Eton.

      • Hugh

         Yes, typical bloody Tory. Nine years old and no sign of taking a stand for the working class at all. Just ‘yes, mum’ this and ‘yes, mum’ that.

    • Hugh

      Wasn’t Reg Goodwin leader in 1973 (while Livingstone was part of the group that would fight against his manifesto at the next election, helping the party to defeat by the Conservatives in ’77)?

      That’s what Wikipedia seems to suggest, anyway.

    • Tellthetruthandshameken

      Who called her a liar – nobody you idiot – the claim is that she was lied to and repeated the lie.

  • Tellthetruthandshameken

    Loose the battle, win the war. The best thing for progressive politics is for Con Livingstone to loose. If he wins he will be  a millstone around progressive politics, how for example, could Labour call for progressive tax policies when a Labour mayor of London is know to have engaged in nefarious tax dodging. Con’s explanation – re employees etc. is just guff and bs. He’s tax dodger.

  • There’s a lot of very sad, pathetic and desperate comment on here. I doubt very much that this debate below is even featuring in the lives of ordinary Londoners. What is, however, are the issues captured in the broadcast. People can either be rather silly about the video, or focus on the issues – those issues which Ken is standing on. 

    Plenty scream at Ken for not being able to deliver on his ‘Fare Deal’. If this is the case, he’ll stand down. I’m not just regurgitating his words – I’ve never met the man – just imagine the furore should he have not cut the fares by the date he’s set.

    • Tellthetruthandshameken

      Instead of engaging in ad hominum comments  – “sad, pathetic” etc. deal with the issues.
      Do you think, for example, that Livingstone’s tax dodging, his anti-semitism, his false claim to have introduced the Freedom Pass, his broken promises from his periods in office make him a trustworthy person. Even if he delivers the fare deal at what expense? What will he cut? When in office Ken approved the closure of the South London line route between Victoria and London Bridge a vital train for King’s College London. 

      • AlanGiles

        Well there ARE some sad and pathetic comments on this thread – from people like you who hide behind a self-righteous non-de-plume. If you feel so strongly why not have the courage to put your real name to your rantings?. What is it, by the way – Fred Pratt?

        • Tellthetruthandshameken

          1. You really have proved my point – making, yet again, personal attacks instead of dealing with the issues; 2. The next time you want to condemn some rich banker or other dodging tax parasite, put a sock in it as you have lost the moral authority to do so – all tax dodgers including Livingstone should be criticised, instead your indignation is selective; 3. Why do I not use my name? Well first does it really matter? What is important are the issues, but the reason I do not use my name is for fear of retaliation by Ken and his mob. Do you really think that a person who paid his cronies £95,000 and similar amounts for jobs which would command £30,000 on the open market is not capable of vindictive action. And yes I know what I’m talking about I have had dealings with Ken the control freak.

          • AlanGiles

            “the reason I do not use my name is for fear of retaliation ”

            I see. Paranoid. Treatment is available.

          • Tellthetruthandshameken

            Anything but deal with policies and practices! It’s called ‘denial’. How about answering a straight question: Do you or do you not condemn Livingstone’s tax avoidance [the main cause of social inequality and underfunded public services], his double standards in condemning tax avoidance whilst doing so himself, his bogus excuses; and his continuing refusal to provide full disclosure? I voted for Ken in all previous mayoral elections – holding my nose – the second and third time – but no more. If elected Livingstone will be a millstone around the ‘neck’ of progressive politics. Anytime yet another scheme for the rich is introduced the Tory/Libs could jeer and point to the  tax avoiding Labour Mayor of London.

          • AlanGiles

            “If elected Livingstone will be a millstone around the ‘neck’ of progressive politics”

            That is the problem. Livingstone has become a target for the Progress mob  and Ultras, and if anyone even vaguely left-wing wins they get anxious in case their beloved Blairite views get diluted.

            There can only be Johnson or Livingstone as Mayor on May 4th: KL is not my favourite politician as I have stated many times, nor do I especially like the concept of Mayors, nonetheless an abstention or vote against KL will mean poorer Londoners are stuck with Johnson for another 4 years

          • Tellthetruthandshameken

            By progressives I did not mean Blairite or indeed Browninte neo-liberals but those who want real change. But your point is well made.
            Unrelated, I just don’t believe Livingstone’s fare policy – he will if he wins reduce fares but pay or it by increasing his income via his share of the community charge or whatever it is called. In the end we will be no better off. If the money was freely available Johnson would have spent it during the election year. Unusually, for the partisan Evening Standard there is a balanced article on transport today,

          • AlanGiles

            I think one of the problems ALL parties have – well certainly the major ones – is that so many of their MPs were tainted by sleaze and while some of the old names (all parties) hang on like dirty glue in high office  there will always be a perception (if not the actuality) that they are still finding ways to play the system.

            I think the only way for this perception to be washed away would be for totally unblemished back benchers in no way connected with those goings-on to be placed in cabinet and shadow cabinet.

            It really is disgusting that in a cabine tof 26/27 only 3 ministers were not implicated in the 2009 scandal – one of them being Ed Miliband  (and of course many Conservatives like Gove, Grayling Duncan-Smith on the other side were up to their necks in it too.

            I will vote for KL for two reasons:

            1) I feel genuinely he will be the lesser of two evils, especially for poorer people in London

            2) If KL loses I strongly suspect – given the direction many of the attacks on Livingstone have come from – the right-wing of the PLP will seek to use his defeat as a cause celebre to oust Ed Miliband and install a candidate who will toe the Blair line more, and let’s face it – righyt wing Labour ministers inflicted as much damage of the unemployed, sick and disabled as the coalition have continued to inflict.


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