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Shaming the capital

Further to Esmerelda's post on the loathsome Ken Livingstone, The Telegraph's leader says it all:

Ken Livingstone has brought further shame upon his country by calling the United States ambassador to Britain a "chiselling little crook". This is the latest in a series of xenophobic outbursts that have exposed the Mayor of London as a boorish loudmouth, wholly unfit to represent the capital in the run-up to the 2012 Olympic Games.

Many were prepared to make excuses for Mr Livingstone when he insulted a Jewish reporter by likening him to a Nazi concentration camp guard. At the time, he had just emerged from a party, funded by council tax payers, and the consensus among the charitable was that he was not so much anti-Jewish as still in party mood.

That defence began to collapse last week when Mr Livingstone suggested that the billionaire Reuben brothers should "go back to Iran and try their luck with the ayatollahs". In fact David and Simon Reuben were born in India, of Jewish stock. Their parents came from Iraq, not Iran. If Mr Livingstone had dared to tell a West Indian to "go back to Africa", he would be facing criminal charges.

The American ambassador, Robert Tuttle, has come in for Mr Livingstone's abuse because diplomats at the US embassy have exercised their right not to pay the daily £8 congestion charge imposed by the mayor. The Americans argue that the charge is a local tax, from which foreign diplomats are exempt under the Vienna Convention.

Mr Livingstone is free to test that claim through the proper channels. But by resorting instead to playground abuse, in the hope of currying favour with Muslim and anti-American voters, he belittles everyone he represents.

Londoners have been much too ready to humour Mr Livingstone - partly, perhaps, because they see the mayoralty as a footling job, not to be taken too seriously. This is in spite of the fact that Mr Livingstone has increased his demands on council tax payers by no less than 118 per cent since he was elected only six years ago.

The sooner voters see through the "cheeky chappie" to the thoroughly nasty, scheming politician underneath, the sooner they will elect a mayor who is fit to speak for London.

I have little to add to this, other than my disgust at the fact that Red Ken is taking a sizeable junk of my money. Taking my money, and taking the piss.  Alice Thompson:

It was the lavatories that finally tipped me over the edge. More than 40 per cent of public loos in London have closed in the past five years. Only 88 out of 255 Underground stations now have them. I am paying £1,098 in council tax to watch an embarrassed, elderly Japanese tourist being forced to urinate behind a tree, and to sneak my children into pubs when they're desperate.

Council taxes have gone up by 4.5 per cent this year, twice the rate of inflation.,.

But Westminster council makes a valid point when it argues that it shouldn't take all the blame. The Mayor of London's "precept" increased by more than 13 per cent this year, and has risen more than 118 per cent since Ken Livingstone was first elected. City Hall, the £43 million mayoral headquarters, has been immortalised this spring with its own model in Legoland, but the London Assembly and its mayor are becoming a divisive waste of money.

Any Londoners reading this, vote him out as soon as you get the chance.