Following Karen Buck’s post for LabourList urging a change of tone in the London Mayoral contest, Ken Livingstone has announced that he’ll be closing his attack website in an attempt to change the tone of the debate. The full statement from Livingstone is below:
“Let’s argue about who will make Londoners better off
Coverage of this campaign has gone into the stratosphere. But for all the wrong reasons. The Nick Ferrari-LBC debate covered massive ground on big issues – fares, policing, transport, cycling, the economy.
Yet the headlines are all about four-letter words in a lift, and rows about taxes. This cannot be right. There is a potential that the election debate becomes a disservice to Londoners.
This is an election campaign and we are going to have some sharp exchanges and each of the main candidates will make some robust points. We are going to criticise each other. There will differences as there are in any political campaign.
We both have dedicated attack websites. Mine – chickenfeed.org.uk – and the Tories’ www.notkenagain.com
Yet there is a danger that things are now considerably out of hand. From my perspective I see a very negative personalised campaign against me. We seem to have gone beyond harsh words into a campaign that is generally more dark and negative. Almost certainly, Conservatives have a different perspective. More important than what I or Tory campaigners think is what Londoners think.
Those of us who are leading candidates in this election have a duty to the electorate to rein it in and direct it to the issues at stake for Londoners.
We must take account of Londoners – the people we are trying to talk to. We need to afford them the respect to have a decent discussion about how we address their concerns, their quality of life, the squeeze on their living standards, the future direction of their neighbourhoods and home city.
I suggest to Boris Johnson therefore that he and I work together to raise the tone and spirit of this election. Let us talk about what really matters to each and every Londoner, and end the X-Factor slug-fest.
Our campaign slogans suggest we agree about what the election should really be about – ‘Better off with Ken’ vs ‘Better off with Boris’. Let’s make the election about that – who will really make Londoners better off.
Most of us, though not the Green candidate, have said pretty strong things. I will seek to ensure that my contributions reflect the real priorities of Londoners. I propose that we all do the same.
All candidates should close their attack websites to concentrate on the positive issues for Londoners. We are closing our attack site now and call on Boris Johnson’s campaign to do the same. We are closing ours and we want to concentrate vigorously on those issues that can make Londoners better off over the next month of this campaign.
The candidates are still going to have ‘dividing lines’; we are still going to try to win the argument; we are still going to have sharp exchanges and we are no doubt going to use humour and satire to promote our arguments and criticise our opponents.
But we need as a field of candidates to take a step back. With one month to go, now is not a bad time to do that.”