Current Mayor of London Boris Johnson and former mayor Ken Livingstone are both controversial characters.
Johnson is what many people in the UK would describe as a "public school twit". Well they would have at one time. In the 21st Century he would be described a little more colourfully.
He became a well known face after appearing on Have I Got News For You in the UK. The public initially disliked Boris but somewhere along the line he became a popular personality. Funny, often without knowing he was, quirky, eccentric and at one time an embarrassment to David Cameron, Boris, against the odds won a landslide victory to secure the role of London Mayor. His upper crust manner was forgotten, as we all fell for his naughty school boy charm.
Ken Livingstone was a different kettle of fish. A long standing Labour politician he was ousted from New Labour and was often at loggerheads with Tony Blair. A thorn in the side of Blair would sum up the relationship. He became London Mayor when the role was brand spanking new and served two terms. The previous mayoral role was replaced with the elected London Mayor, a role that would have more powers.
Known at one time as Red Ken,Mr Livingstone was a plain speaking politician. Initially he was a successful Mayor of London but public opinion changed. A new fresh approach was wanted and in sailed Boris on a sea of popularity.
The role of London Mayor is up for grabs again in 2012 and the candidates are campaigning. Media interviews are par for the course but today Boris got himself into hot water.
A radio debate featuring candidates Conservative Boris, Labour Ken, Liberal Democrat candidate Brian Paddick and Green candidate Jenny Jones had ended. The candidates were sharing a lift, or elevator to American readers when Boris is alleged to have rounded on Ken blasting him with a foul mouthed outburst. Boris shouted at Ken, "It's all f****** lies, it's all f****** lies."
Tut, tut. Hardly cricket old boy!
The rant was witnessed by Paddick and Jones. It appears that the outburst stemmed from personal financial affairs. According to SkyNews Ken had been criticised for "having money he receives for his journalism work paid to a private company, making him liable for corporation tax rather than income tax, at a higher rate" Accused of virtual tax dodging Mr Livingstone accused Boris of behaving in the same way. Mr Johnson's anger was reportedly visible, so presumably a raw nerve was hit.
The row has started whilst the pair were still on air. Boris had denied wrong doing saying,"I have never used a company to minimise my tax. "There was a TV production company which I was briefly a director of but I certainly never... I have always paid full income tax."
On leaving the studio though Boris has a hissy fit. As the dust from the altercation settles all the male candidates have issued statements.
Ken has declared that Boris lost his temper having lost the studio debate which had been nothing to do with taxes. Boris went further and issued a statement saying, "My salary as mayor is taxed as an employee of the Greater London Authority. In the same way as when I was an MP my salary was taxed as an employe," he said. "Any other income that I have received from outside endeavours has been received on a self-employed basis, to me as an individual (no company or other structure has been involved). "No income earned by me has ever been paid to a 'service' company, through which a person or person's freelance earnings can be channelled so that they pay corporation rather than income tax. "To suggest otherwise is a complete and utter fabrication."
Perhaps the mayoral candidate to benefit most from today's fiasco is Mr Paddick. His statement said, "while the pair "clearly hold each other in complete contempt" the election should be about the issues facing Londoners not "foul mouths and fragile egos".
Yes it should. The election will be held on May 3, 2012. This year the London Mayor will be in the public eye more than ever as the UK hosts the Olympics and celebrates the Queen's Jubilee. Let's hope the voters choose well. After all we don't really want a f****** Mayor, do we?
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog