Using private healthcare is just another example of how Ken Livingstone says one thing and does another. We already know that he dubbed tax avoiders as “rich bastards”, only for it to emerge that he had been funnelling his income through a company to avoid paying income tax. And while in City Hall, he preached socialist values while spending £20,000 of taxpayers’ money on a lavish lunch with Hugo Chavez.
So, yes, of course Ken is a hypocrite. The Mayoral election this year is about trust and, time and again, Ken Livingstone has shown that he simply cannot be trusted. Now, more than ever, when he is desperate to find a way back into City Hall and when he will do or say anything to get there, Londoners should be on their guard. London simply cannot afford Ken Livingstone’s hypocrisy.
Priti Patel is Conservative MP for Witham.
First it was Ken Livingstone’s wealth that was a problem for his campaign; now it’s his good health. The news that Livingstone has used a private healthcare company has been portrayed as hypocrisy. I disagree. It’s one thing to argue, as Livingstone has, that the provision of NHS services should remain in public hands. He was a vocal opponent of the reforms in the NHS Bill. But the NHS doesn’t provide regular health checks. If you want one, you need to pay a private provider to do it for you. It’s admirable that he takes his own health so seriously that he’s prepared to have it checked annually. Livingstone has never, as far as I can tell, suggested that other people should be prevented from buying private healthcare if they wish. While what he’s done might be unpopular with the core Labour vote, it isn’t hypocrisy.
Christie Malry is a pseudonym for a chartered accountant who blogs at www.fcablog.org.uk