The recent row over London Mayor Ken Livingstone's blocking of appointments to the London fire authority was just plain ridiculous. Not because of what Ken did, you understand - I didn't agree entirely with his positive discrimination (he claimed that the councillors put forward by the Tories and Lib Dems weren't representative of London's ethnic diversity), but the real problem came with the Tory responses.
First, Nick Ferrari on LBC radio decided that Ken's move was equivalent to claiming that Ken should himself be representative of all of London. Obviously a sarcastic comment but, while I don't think positive discrimination is the way to go, to claim that a single elected politician should himself be representative is out and out ludicrous. The Tory argument goes that the councillors and London Assembly members who were put forward for the seats on the authority have, too, been elected - but it's different. There are a good number of them and they should, if possible, be representative of London as a whole. They were elected to their local councils, and then indirectly chosen to sit on the fire authority. Ken, on the other hand, was directly elected by Londonders - on more than one occasion - to be Mayor. By rights, he therefore has no need to be representative, so long as he serves all the electorate.
Then, another woman's Ann Widdicombe-esque voice on the radio scared me enough, before she went on to claim that London is fast becoming a 'dictatorship'. Quite how do you justify that, when he's won the only ever two terms of the Mayorship, and still shows popularity? Answers on a postcard to your nearest Tory tosser, please.
Positive discrimination doesn't work it's true. Simply because it doesn't make a blind bit of difference whether these people are white, black, brown, blue or yellow, provided they can do the job and have got it fairly. But now Ken's also brought the fairness of the Tory and Lib Dem selection process into question. He's approved the appointments for now - because he has to by law - but is said to be considering legal action on the grounds that the selection process might not have been as transparent as one would hope. We'll have to wait and see.
PS: By coincedence, there seems to be a plot to oust Ken, with Tories trying to put a two-term cap on any single Mayor's time in office, US-President style. Why? If he's still got the support of the people which, despite hysterical Evening Standard ranting about congestion charging, I think you'll find he has, who are posh toffs in Parliament to kick him out? The fact is they're just trying to cover their own backs, having failed miserable twice on the trot to pick a candidate for London Mayor who's got any chance at all of winning.