Saturday, 24 March 2012

Ken: some criticisms require a respectful response.

I wrote this before reading Emma Burnell's post saying pretty much exactly the same thing. So for a more eloquent version of this post, read that here:

As someone who is going to be boarding Ken’s battle bus (too) early tomorrow morning, I currently feel…more hesitant than I would like about talking to people about why they should vote for Ken for Mayor for London. I really, really want Ken to win. Every time I take the tube or get on a bus it annoys me that I know I could be paying less. We currently have a housing crisis that I trust Ken to tackle; that I sure as hell don’t trust Boris to tackle. I want EMA back. Ken was a good mayor, and he will be a good mayor again if he wins.

But recent controversies over tax, and over Ken’s attitude towards the Jewish community, risk jeopardising the campaign.

The attitude of many, often including Ken himself, over the recent Ken controversies has been quite dismissive; “of course Ken pays his taxes!”, “of course Ken’s not anti-Semitic!”. But these concerns are legitimate concerns. It’s not like the telegraph’s claims that Ken is trying to convert Londoners to Islam; of course that’s ridiculous and a collective eye roll is a pretty valid response.

I’m not saying that the accusations levelled at Ken are true; but I’m saying there are reasons for them and there needs to be a respectful response that acknowledges them as valid worries – in many cases coming from groups, such as the Jewish community, who want to support Ken, but feel like, at this point, they can’t. These are not slanders by a right wing press or nasty Boris supporters. These are people with real concerns that they want addressed, not dismissed.

And leaving accusations without a real response can make it look like you don’t have a good response; making it seem like they’re true, in the worst case. But even if this is not the perception of most people, not providing apology and explanation to people with real's dismissive and it's wrong.

Knowing when to eye roll and knowing when to provide a real response is going to be crucial for the campaign. And it, and Ken, need to get their head round this. Now.

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