Sunday, May 20, 2007

By their friends shall ye know them

From the other side of the pond we hear of the latest sinister antics of Livingstone's good friend, El Presidente Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Like our own unreconstructed Communist in London, Chavez intensely dislikes his opponents having a voice and a platform from which to use it. Democracy is inconvenient like that.

Unlike Livingstone, Chavez is able to use ruthless tactics to suppress the opposition's ability to argue their case and expose failings, human rights abuses and a naked thirst for power. Livingstone is limited to hurling abuse. So Chavez spins the line that all opponents must therefore have been involved in a coup attempt against him and takes draconian steps to silence them by removing the platform.

This time it is the independent TV station RCTV that is about to be silenced as Chavez has refused to renew its licence. Instead he will replace the station with... a publicly funded one - i.e. a government propaganda channel.

Marcel Garnier, RCTV's managing director, told a crowd of cheering protesters in Caracas that Mr Chavez was trying to "topple the country over the precipice of totalitarianism where not even his own supporters can express their opinions".

I could not have put it better myself. I wonder what Livingstone thinks about all this. Perhaps he prefers the "quiet diplomacy" approach of his friends in South Africa and will tell Comrade Hugo that his actions are not really on. Or, most likely, he thinks RCTV has had it coming and deserves all they get for daring to oppose such a visionary. Either way, there will be hugs, backslapping and tributes next time they meet - assuming Hugo is not too busy that is.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Yet more Livingstone antics

Today Livingstone is hosting 'The state of London Debate', with the aim being "a chance to discuss with London’s policy makers the reasons behind London’s success and how it can remain successful in the future".

I have had a look at the speakers, all 83 of them, and done a rough and ready sorting into politicians, wonks, lobbyists and the like.

This is what I've divined:

Elected politicians: 16, of whom two are Conservatives.
Livingstone's office, advisers etc: 10
Quangocrats: 13
Media types: 3
Arts / sports: 5
Special interest groups / lobbyists etc etc: 24. Of which, there are three from Muslim organisations including that nice, moderate Mr Bunglawala, and fancy, no Jews.
Business people: Gita Patel of the remarkably obscure Stargate Capital Management and Alistair Soyode of BEN TV. Both are very specifically ethnic minority businesses.

CEO's of FTSE 100 businesses, senior partners from Big Four professional services organisations, senior partners from 'Magic Circle' law firms, Lloyds brokers, London Stock Exchange, money market figures etc etc : Zero.

Given that "Londoners have always known they live in a great city – a place where people from around the globe come to do business and enjoy all that the capital has to offer. Now an official report identifies London as one of the most successful cities in the world" what chances are there that this particular set of people is going to have much insight into the successes of the City of London - the engine of the London economy?