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Sunday, April 15, 2012

The crying game

Pictures of Ken Livingstone crying after watching his own campaign video have already gone viral and led to much discussion in the media. This morning's Sunday Supplement on BBC Radio Wales for example had a piece on the place of emotion in politics.

The Independent on Sunday though, poses the question as to whether the tear were genuine or as fake as the video itself, which apparently featured scripted contributions from paid participants.

The paper says that Mr Livingstone's campaign team spent another frustrating day yesterday fending off these questions:

His lachrymose moment was brought on by a highly professional election broadcast in which ordinary Londoners appeared to be urging him to win the mayoral election for their sake.

But reports soon emerged that the people seen in the broadcast were not a cross-section of London voters, but actors. A blogger on the Labour Uncut website hostile to Mr Livingstone described the claims as "another depth plumbed in the mayoral campaign".

The ex-Mayor's aides said the allegation was untrue, but admitted that some of the participants, recruited by the ad agency BETC, were speaking scripted lines to camera. Most were recruited "off the street", they said, although one was identified as Rabbi Joseph Stauber, a former Labour councillor from Hackney.

An aide added: "Some were paid expenses. It would be really unfair if they weren't." A statement from the Livingstone campaign read: "Everyone who appears in Labour's party political broadcast is an ordinary Londoner backing Ken on 3 May. No actors were used in the broadcast. Labour's broadcast featured ordinary Londoners talking about their lives and how Ken's policies will make them better off. Boris Johnson featured Boris Johnson talking about Boris Johnson."

My betting is that the tears were real but that their source was Ken's realisation that he is not going to win a third term this time, if at all.
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