Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Ken Livingstone's Expenses and the Daily Mail

Ken Livingstone is currently on LBC talking about his expense claims, as trailed in the Daily Mail.

He's had surprising support from most callers so far.

His biographer was non-plussed and his old nemesis Nick Ferrari has just called it a "non-story" on air.

The trouble with the original article is that either the Mayor's office, or the Mail themselves removed vital context from the claims.

Namely, who he was meeting for those dinners, and why.

You can judge for yourself why that was, but luckily one City Hall worker has just filled in the gaps for us. Here's what they found:

And their thoughts:

Dinner with Clinton Foundation, for the C40 Large Cities Climate Change conference in New York and in Shanghai all perfectly acceptable. They were promoting London, bringing in investment etc, etc.

Interesting that, if it was them, Ken paid for dinner with Bechtel. Probably didn’t want to constrain himself in calling the Metronet consortium the rude names he did!

Lunch with Jesse Jackson, at the Labour Party conference and in Cuba more of a party political/left wing love in. Not against the rules and pretty much any mayor of what Party would do it, although it would have been better if the Labour Party had paid for these.

Lord (Desmond) Plummer is an ex TORY leader of the GLC.

Green Alliance think tank dinner is a bit surprising. You would have thought that they should have paid, but Ken was at that time trying to build an alliance for the elections.

Without the full claims, I think that's as much as we're going to learn from all this.

The Mayor's office needed to deflect some attention from Boris and his aides, and they found just the man for the job.

To Ken's credit, he's at least been willing to go on air and answer questions about his expenses.

And he did leave the job some 14 months ago.

When are Boris Johnson and his aides planning to answer questions about theirs?


Fitzroy said...

I demand that Lee Jasper be linked to this story.

AdamB said...

Can't help there I'm afraid, although I could always knock out another version of these.

How about: "Jasper given Livingstone doggy bag shame"?

Fitzroy said...

That'll do!

angelneptunestar said...

Surely, the point is that since it was public money, he shouldn't have done business entertaining at such expensive restaurants?

He could have had a really good meal at half what it costs at Le Pont de la Tour.

angelneptunestar said...

You all made such a fuss about Boris's taxis. But you seem to think using Le Pont de la Tour is acceptable.

Isn't this a little bit unreasonable?

AdamB said...


"Surely, the point is that since it was public money, he shouldn't have done business entertaining at such expensive restaurants?

"He could have had a really good meal at half what it costs at Le Pont de la Tour."

Boris Johnson's expenses

"£85.44 28.08.08 Le Pont de La Tour, Lunch with Christopher Garnett"

Let me guess, you think it's acceptable now?

Appealing of Ealing said...

I think it's not an unreasonable assumption that had these expenses been Johnson's, and Johnson had been grazing with the Tory equivalent of Jessie Jackson, to the tune of 800 quid, the "editorial" here would have hit a very different note. You lot would all be milking for months.

MP's expenses was a story. Brian Coleman being a troughing idiot is a story. But Johnson's taxis, or his newspapers, and Barnes's taxis, and Livingstone's lunches, though all a little indulgent, are not very interesting.

But hey, if it looks like a scab -- have a good pick at it anyway.

AdamB said...

I've said absolutely nothing about Boris's dinner bills, newspapers, or even his hotel stay at the tory conference. That's all part of the job. Leaving taxi meters ticking over for hours on end is not. And it's not the platform that he campaigned on either.

Oliver said...

this works out at 11 quid per night over the 4 year period... for a london mayor i would say this is pretty reasonable. this is a non-story if ever i've seen one.

Appealing of Ealing said...

AdamB said...

"Leaving taxi meters ticking over for hours on end is not..."

You might be right. But I'm also prepared to accept that the mayor of a big international city, who doesn't run an official car, may occasionally do something extravagent like this. Even a cost-cutting cycling mayor. I just wouldn't expect him to make a habit of it.

For Coleman to do it is a significant transgression, but for the mayor it's just not a story, not for me anyway.

To read some of the comments, you'd think he'd been caught shoplifting in the lingerie section of Fortnum and Masons.

I don't think any of the right-winged blogs have picked up on the Livingtone story (or Johnson's taxis), but by contrast look here ...if you dare. And some of you thought my language was carelessly intemperate.

tomf said...

I suspect it's just the apparent uselessness and hypocrisy of Boris that gets on people's nerves. I might just be projecting but it seems to be a consistent theme. I continue to struggle to find a substantive policy in his administration. Meaningless booze bans? Fantasy buses?

AdamB said...

Just to answer my own question - they're not:

Anonymous said...

Today's Evening Standard (17.07.09)has an interesting article on Leader Cockell of Kensington and Chelsea little dinner for two in New York, courtesy of the K&C taxpayers. But who was the lucky guest? I gather that the Leader has forgotten. Clearly the guest did not make much of an impression!