The Mayor of London, Labour’s Sadiq Khan, has had a pretty easy six months. There has been plenty of schmoozing with celebrities and foreign trips resulting in photo-opportunities. He’s been able to claim credit for projects set up by his predecessor Boris Johnson – notably the launch of the night tube. Mayor Khan has also quietly ditched several key campaign pledges with barely a murmur of complaint: a freeze on all public transport fares, a police sergeant in every ward, 80,000 new homes a year, two million new trees – all have been shamelessly cast aside.
Finally he has persuaded the media that his election represented a plucky triumph against Islamophobia. This is nonsense. His opponent Zac Goldsmith is not anti-Muslim – the challenge was over Khan’s extremist links. Khan’s response was to complain in a generalised way about “smears” while failing to response to the specifics. Still the narrative of victimhood has been lazily accepted.
Perhaps because he has had such an easy ride Mayor Khan has now decided to make a self-indulgent appointment of one of his cronies – Amy Lamé, a lesbian comedian born in New Jersey.
Before the election she hosted a fundraising event for the Khan campaign. Now she has been appointed London’s Night Czar. She will be paid £35,000 a year – funded, naturally, by the council taxpayers of London out of the Mayor’s precept – for what will be very much a part-time post.
Lamé’s credentials are limited. She co-presented an afternoon show on BBC Radio London which was axed in 2012. She is not known to have run anything – whether in Government or business.
All this is bad enough. What makes the appointment far worse is Lamé’s obnoxious political views.
When former prime minister Margaret Thatcher died in 2013 Lamé retweeted: “Ding dong, the witch is dead”.
Imagine if a Conservative had made equivalent comments about a senior Labour figure such as Tony Benn? To state what should be obvious, decent people in a civilised democracy should not wish for the deaths of their political opponents.
On the Queen’s 90th birthday in April of this year Lamé said it was a “shit day” – perhaps implying she wished The Queen had died and certainly offending the monarch in an absurdly childish way.
After the Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, also a lesbian, won an award from gay rights group Stonewall the response from Lamé was: “Tory scum, winning politician of the year. #epicfail.”
The hate has been spewed out constantly from her.
She once called Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne a “c***”
She then said had a “fantasy of bitch-slapping” David Cameron and Tory peer Baroness Warsi. Perhaps the low point was an attack on Cameron after emotional comments he made about the medical treatment from the NHS for his son Ivan who died in 2009 at the age of six.
Before the election Khan suspended a Parliamentary aide for offensive tweets. But now Khan says objections to Lamé’s comments are “petty”. What would she have needed to say for him to take objections seriously?
Goldsmith has been vindicated in the warnings he gave during the Mayoral election campaign over the judgment that Khan showed in the company he kept. Ken Livingstone had some pretty outrageous appointments but I don’t recall any as bad as this.
Somebody with odious views like Lamé should be expelled from the Labour Party – not rewarded with a council taxpayer-funded sinecure. The Mayor of London should be building up a serious team who can gain respect on a cross party basis. This repugnant decision by Khan shows he is not up to the job.