The Week in Politics: Don't cry for me, Westminster

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Ken Livingstone in positive mode
Ken Livingstone

The truth is, Ken Livingstone never really left you.

We thought, after his 2008 defeat, it was all over for the man once known as Red Ken. How wrong we were. The man who has shown us the true inner beauty of newts and turned himself into the bane of the Labour party gave us another flash of his bizarrely compelling personality this week. His manly show of emotion proved too much as he watched a video of 'ordinary Londoners' telling him what a great candidate he is. In utterly weird scenes, Ed Miliband gave him a comforting pat on the back. It was, without doubt, the highlight of the week. Even if the Tories did subsequently claim those 'ordinary Londoners' were, actually, actors.

Yes, Ken was once the focus of Labour's mayoral troubles. But not this week, as it emerged that the party might have to prevent MPs from resigning to fight elections later this year. This is, unsurprisingly, not meeting with the wholehearted approval of Labour MPs like Liam Byrne and Tony Lloyd. As Boris once found before he embarked on his City Hall journey, being the leader of a major city is much more fun than being an opposition backbencher.

Journeys through London were themselves a topic of controversy this week, thanks to controversy erupting over some anti-gay bus adverts blocked by Boris. Those seeking the "reorientation" of homosexuals had been trying to rebut a Stonewall campaign telling homophobes to "get over it!" Their response, insensitively judged, was quickly knocked back by Boris. Ken, of course, said he should have taken this step even sooner.


The usual coalition bickerings have continued. In more bad news for George Osborne, plans to cap tax relief on donations contained in March's Budget hit the headlines this week. Nick Clegg got into some hot water over the snooping row. A damning report criticised the Metropolitan police for their involvement in the phone-hacking scandal. Business as usual, then.

Away from the turmoil of life in Westminster, David Cameron spent the week working his way through a tour of southeast Asia. He definitely tops the list of Sights We Thought We'd Never See for his meeting with the Burmese president, Thein Sein. Such is the degree of progress in Burma that he was even able to hold a press conference with Aung San Suu Kyi, an extraordinary sight. The main purpose of the trip, though, was business: Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan were all heavily courted by No 10's delegation. Downing Street had to be a little more circumspect in Burma, where sanctions still apply. The ten or so business figures who accompanied the PM were just "tourists", No 10 insisted.

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