Standard is right to hold Ken to account

There can be few regional newspapers that enjoy a completely
harmonious relationship with the top politicians who call the shots on
their patch.

And that’s the way it should be. If things get too
cosy, some readers are going to wonder if their guard dog has turned
into a poodle.

For the Evening Standard and London mayor Ken
Livingstone, the animosity has reached a level that would shock even
Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger.

The nadir was reached last week
when Livingstone likened Standard reporter Oliver Finegold, who happens
to be Jewish, to a concentration camp guard.

When Finegold said
he found the remark insulting, Livingstone laid into his paper, saying
it was full of “scumbags and reactionary bigots”.

There was
nothing unreasonable about Finegold’s approach to Livingstone. And the
Standard has done only what every newspaper should: asked awkward
questions of those who are paid to be accountable.

Where it has
been critical of him in some areas, it has been supportive in others.
It even backed Livingstone in last year’s election.

So far
Livingstone has refused to apologise, despite moves to censure him, on
the grounds that he doesn’t want to say “words that I don’t believe in
my heart”.

Such arrogance only goes to underline the need for a
newspaper that is not just within its rights to hold him to account.
It’s doing its duty.

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