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When in a hole

Posted by Helen Wednesday, February 16, 2005

When you are in a hole, runs the wise political advice, the first thing you must do is to stop digging. Actually, the first thing you need to do is to recognize that a hole is what you are in.

This seems to be Ken Livingstone’s problem at the moment. He appears not to be able to realize that he is in a hole and one of his own making. Tony Blair is notoriously impervious to his cheekie chappie charm and may well find it convenient to get rid of him in such a way that the left cannot complain about.

Who remembers this story? In July 2003, Silvio Berlusconi, with Italy then occupying the exalted position of EU presidency, addressed the European Parliament, where various Green and Social-Democrat MEPs heckled him. He turned on one of them, by the name of Martin Schultz, and said that there could be a part for him in a film, playing a “Kapo”, that is a concentration camp guard chosen from among the prisoners.

Berlusconi being a man of the right, all hell broke lose but he refused to apologize to the MEP himself, though he did apologize to the German people. One got the feeling that perhaps he thought the German people needed an apology since they had to put up with politicians like Martin Schultz.

It is clear from that entire saga that Berlusconi knew exactly what he was saying. Ken, a man of the left, on the other hand, seems not to understand anything.

He had made a big issue of the Holocaust commemoration ceremony at City Hall (during which he quoted from the spurious Hitler Diaries, a spoof produced by a German journalist in the eighties) but he seems not to have understood what the Holocaust was.

Otherwise he would not have thrown around words like German war criminal lightly and would have grasped their implications for a Jewish journalist. It seems that Ken is no different from other politicians, to whom substance has no meaning. It is only the form that matters. No wonder he is enamoured of the European Union.

Read the full story of the Ken saga here.