Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Sorry, not sorry

Not so long ago I described something as being “a bit mental” and it’s quite possible I will do again. I probably shouldn’t, we’re better than that and in the wrong context (every context?) it can be construed as offensive.

There is though - and I may be flattering myself here - a big gap between my fault and that of Ken Livingstone. Today, the former Mayor of London described a political opponent as being “obviously very depressed and disturbed” and needing “psychiatric help”. And all because Kevan Jones (same party, but it’s difficult to tell) had suggested Ken wasn’t up to his new job. This would sound like the usual rough and tumble of politics were it not for Jones’s known history of depression; something he had spoken about in the House of Commons.

Livingstone did apologise, but only after much strong arming from Jeremy Corbyn, then watered it down in a television head-to-head with the standard “sorry if you’re offended” non-apology, suggesting that, anyway, the other guy had started it. I could have left it at one politician saying something unpleasant about another - it happens all the time, it’s a democracy in ‘rude health’ - were it not for an earlier claim to be unaware of Jones’s mental health condition. This was plausible enough in itself, but when accompanied with some vague reference to not having been around Parliament for some years felt like an embellishment too far.

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