Did Labour choose the wrong candidate for Mayor of London? The short answer is that Livingstone was democratically selected by Labour Party members, not by the Labour leadership. His opponent in the selection, Oona King, had a vacuous manifesto and an unimpressive record. His manifesto contained plans for affordable housing, fare cuts and congestion charge.
The other side of the coin is that the Tories lucked out with the right candidate, an apparently postmodern, post-ideological chap with a certain bonhomie. Johnson's carefully cultivated image allowed him to rise above the overall rejection of the Tories.
In each GLA constituency, 15,000-20,000 more votes were cast for Johnson than for the Tory Assembly candidate. In contrast, in all but two constituencies, Labour candidates out-performed Livingstone, generally only by a margin of 1,000-4,000 votes. All those margins add up and that was enough for Johnson to win whilst Labour won the assembly. A small point, the lowest turn-outs were in Labour seats (City and East London, Lambeth and Southwark). Livingstone needed those areas to have higher turn-outs than average. The fact that they didn't suggests that local Labour parties are still relatively inactive.
The main point remains that Livingstone's vote was lower than Labour's. For those of us who remember Livingstone at the GLC or taking on Blair over public transport and democracy in 2000, it's strange to see his image transformed into yet another slightly tawdry politician.
Livingstone has had the most extraordinary political career. His autobiography You Can't Say That, published last year, reminded me of what a practical municipal socialist he had been. His years on Lambeth and Camden Councils and the GLC, in the 1970s and 1980s, display his commitment to publicly-owned housing - building houses, getting people out of damp hostels, ending racist lettings policies - and creative local government finance planning.
The courage to stand up for lesbian and gay rights and to talk to Sinn Fein in the early 1980s cannot be exaggerated. He was genuinely brave and far-sighted.
The press called him "defender and apologist for the criminal and murderous activities of the IRA." They dug around his private life and routinely screamed abuse at him - a pattern that the Standard was to repeat in 2008, when small, sometimes sleazy, incidents were used to fuel suggestions of large-scale corruption.
The viciousness of the 2008 Standard campaign, repeated this year, is breath-taking and I can't think of another British politician who has had to endure such press hostility over the whole of his political career, not even Arthur Scargill.
Until recently, Livingstone could transcend Establishment hostility. In 1999 and 2000, during the Labour Party selection for mayoral candidate and then while running as an Independent, the Labour Party threw everything it could at him through the press. Livingstone's response was political - campaigning on public ownership of the tube and the right of Labour Party members to select their own candidate.
In 2005, the Board of Deputies of British Jews briefly succeeded in getting him suspended from office over a foolish remark to a journalist. The punishment and outcry were ludicrously disproportionate to the offence, if offence it was. Compare that with Johnson, who has used the word "piccaninnies" in the past but sails on regardless.
It used to be that Livingstone was, mostly, a standard-bearer for the left. He could articulate the economic case for public investment, arguments around taxation, civil rights, class politics brilliantly. He was a leader of the Labour left, part of our broad church and he went out to bat for the left.
He was quick to defend me in public when I was witch-hunted in 1995 and was running for the party's NEC in 1998. But, within the left he was not always collective would engage in personal attacks, and tended to pick allies who divided rather than broadened the left.
Livingstone won the 2000 election with a brilliant combination of popular leftish policies and his own personality. In so doing, he created the conditions for Johnson, portraying the mayor as a big character, transcending party politics. His record as mayor was mixed - he fought and lost the battle to keep the Tube in public ownership, introduced the congestion charge and had some redistributive policies on affordable housing and homelessness. But he was too close to the City and big business, enthusiastically promoted the corporate sponsorship festival of the Olympics and was far too willing to take the side of the police against the public.
His view that Jean Charles de Menezes was the 53rd victim of the London bombers is just wrong - de Menezes was the victim of trigger-happy police. These positions put him outside the dynamic of protest for the first time in his career. That shift - from man of the people to man of the Establishment - lost him the enthusiastic support he used to enjoy.
It's in that light that Livingstone's recent troubles - notably his tax affairs plus an assortment of inept remarks - had the impact that they did. The problem was that each story blunted the political message. He couldn't attack the Tories over tax avoidance and his campaign against racism and Islamophobia was muddied. In the end he came to be seen as just one more politician.
Liz Davies is a labour movement activist and legal aid barrister. She was a member of Labour's National Executive Committee 1998 - 2000. She is the Chairwoman of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers (www.haldane.org) and writes this column in a personal capacity