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The London Assembly today backed a Conservative Group motion condemning Ken Livingstone’s remarks comparing the Mayor of London’s new chief of staff to indicted Serbian general Ratko Mladic.

Speaking in Bromley, Mr Livingstone said:

“If Boris gets re-elected, he'll be trying all he can to please the Tory grassroots, cos they're the ones who'll pick their next leader. That's why he's got the beast of Wandsworth unleashed. Eddie Lister:
the Ratko Mladic of local government.”

Commenting after the motion, supported by the Liberal Democrats, was passed, Group Leader, James Cleverly said:

“Ken Livingstone’s remarks are utterly outrageous and offensive and demonstrate a huge error of judgment on his part. This episode suggests to me that he’s wholly unsuitable to be Labour’s candidate in this election and certainly demonstrates why he can never be mayor again.”

James adds:

At this morning's London Assembly plenary meeting Boris's new Chief of Staff answered questions on his plans for his new post and his record in local government.  The tone was both professional and friendly.

Let us not forget that Livingstone was on traditional form when he compared Boris's new Chief of Staff to the man accused of initiating the murder of over 8,000 men and boys in the massacre at Srebrenitsa in July 1995.  What do you expect from a man who described the Jewish reporter, Oliver Feingold, as a Nazi, Trevor Philips as a racist and Barack Obama as a mobster?

I was pleased that the Lib Dems on the Assembly (with whom we don't often see eye-to-eye) felt that they could support the motion but I was both surprised and disappointed that the Labour members and Jenny Jones of the Green Party would not.

I was particularly shocked when firstly John Biggs and then Val Shawcross stood and tried to make light of the comments, with Val Shawcross claiming that it was little more than a "bad joke" and suggesting that this was on a par with the conduct of Conservatives who accuse her of joining a picket line with RMT union members.  When the vote was taken I could see that a number of the Labour group looked particularly uncomfortable.

Livingstone has already gone “off-piste” in his support for Lutfur Rahman against the official Labour party candidate.  Ed Mililbank seemed unable or unwilling to do anything, he is still silent on Livingstone’s latest outburst.  Every time that Livingstone sticks two finger up at the Labour party leadership he gets more confident and more extreme.  Perhaps those pained faces on the Labour benches can see where Livingstone’s vile tongue and huge ego will take them.

The proposal of the motion and the debate that followed can be viewed here, starting at the 2 hour 24 minute point.

Ratko Mladic is indicted with genocide, extermination, murder, deportation, inhumane acts, terror, unlawful attacks and taking of hostages.The motion, proposed by James Cleverly and seconded by Richard Tracey read as follows:

That the Assembly notes the answers to the questions asked and welcomes the appointment of Edward Lister to the role of Chief of Staff and Deputy Mayor, Planning. This Assembly believes his long and distinguished experience in local government will benefit all of London and calls on all Members of the Assembly to disassociate themselves from the disgusting personal attacks made by a member of the public comparing him to a mass murderer and war criminal.

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