John's article referred to the fact that a disciplinary panel of the Labour Party has ruled he should be suspended for another year for 'bringing the party into disrepute' over his comments about antisemitism, Hitler and Zionism. A member of the Labour Party for almost 50 years, he was censured by the Party, both for suggesting that Hitler, at one point in his political career, supported 'Zionism' and for defending the Labour MP, Naz Shah, over the antisemitic Facebook post she made, for which she has apologised.
Everything hinges on the claims Ken made to reporters that the Nazis sold weapons to Zionist fighters and set up training camps to help Jews adapt to life in a different country and his contention : “So you had, right up until the start of the Second World War, real collaboration.” His comments referred to the 'Haavara Agreement', signed by the Nazi Government, that facilitated the relocation of some Jews to Palestine in 1933 and before the Third Reich began its campaign of mass persecution. Ken's claim that the Agreement had meant Hitler was supportive of a Jewish homeland has been widely disputed by historians.
In his article, John tried to redress the balance by saying of Ken : 'There was another reason so many of us were willing to overlook his dodgier statements, one that’s been forgotten over the last few years as he gradually seems to have lost the plot: he was really rather good at running London.' He then considered 'a brief selection of some of the things Livingstone did as Mayor.'
'He introduced the congestion charge, massively reducing congestion and improving travel times in Central London.'
'He invested heavily in the bus network.'
'He gave us the Oyster card, the cycle hire scheme and London Overground, in which battered old national rail lines were reborn as a sort of S-Bahn.'
'He thought big, too. He was a key figure in the capital’s bid for the 2012 Olympics.'
John, didn't, but might have mentioned Ken giving the go ahead for 15 sky scrapers to be constructed during his Mayoralty, including The Gherkin and The Shard. He considered these decisions necessary to fill the demand for office space. Being Ken., he brushed off criticism by groups and individuals, most notably Prince Charles, concerned about the preservation of historic skylines.
In addition, he pedestrianised the north side of Trafalgar Square, transforming it into a public space with a cafe, public toilets and a lift for the disabled; introduced an annual Saint Patrick's Day Festival to celebrate the contributions of the Irish to London ; revived London's free 'Anti-Racism Music Festival', now called 'Rise : London United'; continued his support for LGBT rights and in 2001 he set up Britain's first register for same-sex couple which, while it fell short of legal marriage rights, was seen as a step towards the Civil Partnership Act in 2004.
John finished his article with :
'But, broadly, Livingstone in power showed what a leftwing mayor could do: investing in services, public events and civil rights, and the embracing the idea of the city as a place of diversity and solidarity. I defy you to watch the speech he gave after the 7/7 bombings without welling up just a little. Now he’s been suspended for bringing the Labour party into disrepute, he’s permanently trashed his own reputation. Few Londoners will be getting drunk and angry about how he’s been treated tonight. And few, I fear, will now spare a thought for all that he did for the City.'
"The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interrèd with their bones."