A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

London Calling

Tracksy.com is a wonderful thing.

It tells me stuff like the fact that in recent days I have had 303 hits from the domain name london.gov.uk.

Which could explain the rather hysterical anonymous attempts to police anything mildly critical from my commenters - or me - about the Mayor of London, whose organisation hosts that domain name.

Good to see all those ex-IMG central committee members earning their six figure public salaries with a spot of blogging.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's right, Luke. Not only do all the Labour people working at the GLA read your apalling comments about the Mayor so do all the other parties who then delight in trying to embarass Labour in the London Assembly and boy don't they let Labour people know it! Keep going, Luke. You're doing wonders for the Labour Mayor of London's credibility at the moment and helping his reelection no end.

7:44 pm, May 30, 2007

Blogger Robert said...

Oh, I don't know, Luke. Your audience is more likely to be among the Tories and Liberal Democrats at City Hall, who I'm sure are all really appreciative of your public attacks on Livingstone, Cruddas and other members of the Labour Party.

7:45 pm, May 30, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Hmmm. And I remember the entire Labour left holding back from public disagreements with Blair for the year prior to the General Election. Being a Labour candidate entitles you to support from fellow members against candidates of other parties - it doesn't give you a free pass to avoid any criticism of your stance and activities on matters of internal Labour politics. I really doubt this website is a major contributor to public views on Ken, who as everyone keeps pointing out, is very popular.

8:50 pm, May 30, 2007

Anonymous jon said...

Face it, Luke, you're a total hypocrite.

You're stuck in some early 80s timewarp, denouncing those on the left for doing damage to the party.

And yet you're the modern day incarnation of that caricature, mercilessly directing your fire against members of your own party, providing the Tories with precious ammunition.

I'd love someone to spend a day analysing every blog post you've ever done and seeing what percentage is dedicated to attacking the Tories and what percentage is dedicated to attacking your own party.

Because I bet you now that the latter would win by an overwhelming landslide.

Face it, Luke, you're the Tories' best mate

9:18 pm, May 30, 2007

Anonymous Hovedan said...

Jon - im no defender of Luke - i think some of his attacks on Harriet Harman, who i support, have been out of order, and ive said so. I take issue with Luke about a range of policies, but fundamentally he seems to be somebody who works hard for the Labour party and his community in Hackney and to characterise him as the "Tories' best mate" is just silly and offensive.

10:04 pm, May 30, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well he should stop acting like the Tories best mate then!

10:20 pm, May 30, 2007

Anonymous Hovedan said...

Neil Kinnock destroyed the Militant entryists by pointing out "what happens with impossible promises. You start with far fetched resolutions. They are then pickled into a rigid dogma, a code, and you go through the years sticking to that, out-dated, misplaced, irrelevant to the real needs, and you end in the grotesque chaos of a Labour council - a Labour council - hiring taxis to scuttle round a city handing out redundancy notices to its own workers."

Im sure that some of the ultra left reflect back and yearn for those halcyon days, meanwhile the Tories went on to win elections and destroy the British economy and british communities. Luke's uber blairite new labourism can be misplaced (and annoying!) but he is entitled to point out the absurdity of the ultra left, and the disaster that any of their "dogma code" would be.

10:36 pm, May 30, 2007

Anonymous stickthatinyourjulesandsmokeit said...

Hi Luke, I'm one of those people who had loads of visits to your site yesterday when we realised you were having a pop at his mayorness and I've got a 'london.gov.uk' domain name. But sorry to say I'm not one of Ken's lot up on the 8th floor of the Kremlin, er I mean City Hall.

You'll be delighted to know that you're required reading these days here on the 6th floor.

I can't speak for Ken's commisars but it's well known around here that amongst the Labour researchers and staff they loathe you and your website.

So keep up the good work, mate - Jennette's going to love the leaflets we'll be putting out in Hackney next year!

10:38 am, May 31, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Winning a popularity contest amongst GLA staffers has never really been at the top of my list of goals in life.

10:43 am, May 31, 2007

Anonymous stickthatinyourjulesandsmokeit said...

By the way, love the bit about Ken's lefty Labour cronies and the six figure salaries.

Bet Jules loves it when you stick it to that lot.

10:47 am, May 31, 2007

Anonymous stickthatinyourjulesandsmokeit said...

'Winning a popularity contest amongst GLA staffers has never really been at the top of my list of goals in life.'

Don't worry about it, some of us love you. Just not on the Labour floor.

10:50 am, May 31, 2007

Anonymous webslinger said...

I do think you should be more careful Luke. You're a Hackney councillor and you're saying and hosting a lot of things about the Labour people in London-wide government - the mayor, his staff, the Labour group's staff, Assembly members (in previous posts) - which really aren't very constructive or helpful to the party in London.

You're doing a disservice to the Hackney party with all this conflict with Ken.

Some of the stuff you're coming out with are the kind of thing I would expect to read in the Mail or the Standard.

A bit of moderation wouldn't go amiss.

And for the record I'd like it clarified if you were really saying that Ken Livingstone is a 'flat-earther.' London is immeasurably better under Ken than it was before and on many things he's really breaking new ground such as climate change or the congestion charge.

And no, I'm not a 'london.gov.uk' bod.

12:06 pm, May 31, 2007

Anonymous webslinger said...

In addition, can someone clarify this 6th floor/8th floor stuff?!

12:13 pm, May 31, 2007

Anonymous stickthatinyourjulesandsmokeit said...

'webslinger said...
In addition, can someone clarify this 6th floor/8th floor stuff?!'

Yes, happy to comrades. The sixth floor of city hall is where all of us evil Tories sit and plan our attacks on his mayorness and the Labour lot. Ken stuck us together with the nutters from UKIP, but put the Liberal Democrats, Greens and Labour together on the seventh floor.

The eighth floor is where you can find most of the mayor's office staff and the mayor himself. That's where most of Livingstone's political appointees are located.

(To be totally accurate, most of the floors in this building are Ken's people, churning out his strategies and policies day after day. But the 8th floor is where all the political shenanigans go on.)

12:58 pm, May 31, 2007

Anonymous stickthatinyourjulesandsmokeit said...

@ webslinger: 'And for the record I'd like it clarified if you were really saying that Ken Livingstone is a 'flat-earther.'

Of course he is. Well said Luke.

1:07 pm, May 31, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

This is going round in circles, but yet again:

Ken is doing a very good job as Mayor. He deserves to get re-elected. I will campaign for him enthusiastically next year.

However, I am not going to re-write history about my opposition to his role as a leading Hard Leftist in the London Labour Party over decades, or the background of some of his key staff.

And I condemn his line on Cuba, Venezuela and the Middle East. It's his love-in with Castro and Chavez that makes him a flat-earther, not his excellent policies on transport, policing, spatial planning etc. As it's the latter that he is paid to do, I would urge people to re-elect him next May. If he was applying to be Foreign Secretary I would take a different stance.

I'm sure that in the unlikely event he is aware of my existence, he feels the same - that I do a good job as a Hackney Councillor but he wouldn't vote for me in internal party elections, or want me to decide the country's defence policy.

To the folks on the 6th floor, why don;t you pay a bit more attention to finding your own party a credible candidate, indeed a candidate full stop?

1:31 pm, May 31, 2007

Blogger Owen said...

What's wrong with Livingstone's friendly relations with Hugo Chavez, an elected leader who enjoys (by far) the greatest democratic mandate on the face of the earth, and who was the victim of an abortive rightwing Pinochet-style military coup?

2:25 pm, May 31, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I have an inbuilt mistrust of leaders who wear military uniforms and shut down TV stations. He is actively opposed by Democratic Action, Labour's sister party in the Socialist International. And he allies himself with Castro, one of the world's last Stalinist dictators, a man who puts disidents - including democratic socialists - into prison camps.

2:35 pm, May 31, 2007

Blogger Owen said...

"I have an inbuilt mistrust of leaders who wear military uniforms and shut down TV stations."

Unfortunately the people of Venezuela tend to disagree with you. That's why Chavez has won about 10 elections since 1998, increasing his majority each time - and yes, in elections certified as free and fair by impartial international observers such as the Carter Center.

It's always been an absolute puzzle to me that his government has allowed media stations to broadcast demands for armed insurrection against the government for TEN YEARS without doing anything about it. In my view, that was total madness on the part of the Chavez government.

Imagine our elected government was overthrown by the military and ITV started broadcasting messages supporting the coup and urging everyone to take part - and then continued broadcasting calls for the government to be overthrown? What exactly do you think would happen to ITV?

"He is actively opposed by Democratic Action, Labour's sister party in the Socialist International."

In this welcome show of solidarity with affiliates of the Socialist International, I take it you will also be changing your stance on Israel in line with Fatah's position?

Chavez has won huge majorities on a platform of democratic socialism. As I've said, no other leader on earth enjoys as substantial a democratic mandate.

The unfortunately named "Democratic Action" was the party was in power when dead of hundreds of protesters from the shanty towns where shot dead in a Tiananmen Square-style massacre in February 1989 (the so-called Caracazo). It is an absolute disgrace that this party remains within the International.

"And he allies himself with Castro, one of the world's last Stalinist dictators, a man who puts disidents - including democratic socialists - into prison camps."

I didn't see you denouncing Blair for snuggling up with Gadaffi, a dictator whose human rights record is far more atrocious than that of Castro? Or indeed for his alliance with the Saudi dictatorship - surely one of the most disgusting tyrannies on the face of the planet?

Can you name any prison camps in Cuba? Struggling a bit? Ok ok, I'll name you one - how about Guantanamo?

2:49 pm, May 31, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Owen - I found the name of one element of Castro's Gulag - Boniato Prison - within seconds. Human Rights Watch say:
"Like Cuba's general prison population, political prisoners frequently suffer dramatic weight loss due to meager food rations, serious and sometimes life-threatening health problems due to insufficient medical attention, and abuses at the hands of guards or other inmates. But political prisoners also encounter problems unique to their status as non-violent activists, for holding anti-government views or for criticizing human rights violations in the prisons. Every political prisoner we spoke to stressed that Cuba's confinement of non-violent prisoners with prisoners convicted for violent crimes, often in maximum-security facilities with Cuba's most hardened criminals, is degrading and dangerous. Prison authorities refuse to acknowledge political prisoners' distinct status and punish them for refusing to participate in political reeducation, not wearing prison uniforms, or denouncing human rights abuses in the prisons. Guards restrict political prisoners' visits with family members and subject relatives to harassment. Prisoners' relatives also face government intimidations outside the prison walls. Before trial, many Cuban political prisoners routinely spend several months to more than a year in pretrial detention, often in isolation cells. Following conviction, they face additional punitive periods in solitary confinement. The government also crushes free expression inside the prison walls with criminal charges and prosecutions of previously-convicted prisoners who speak out about inhumane prison conditions and treatment. Cuban police or prison guards often heighten the punitive nature of solitary confinement with additional sensory deprivation, such as completely blocking all light from entering a cell, blocking ventilation, removing beds or mattresses, seizing prisoners' clothes and belongings, forbidding prisoners from communicating with one another, or restricting food and water beyond the already meager prison rations. Prison and police officials also disorient prisoners by leaving lights on in cells for twenty-four hours a day, incorrectly setting the time on clocks, or incessantly playing loud music. Many prisoners said that their discomfort was aggravated by extreme heat and swarms of mosquitoes biting them in the tightly closed cells. Experts in treating torture survivors recognize these as methods of physical and psychological torture."

3:10 pm, May 31, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...


I'm not disputing Chavez is popular. So was Mrs Thatcher but we don't therefore praise her.

On the Blair point - heads of government have to meet other heads of state or govt as part of their job, however distasteful they are. Mayors get to choose - no one makes them do diplomacy - their choice of who to visit sends messages about their city.

On the Socialist International point - if I was Palestinian I would support Fatah, if I was Israeli I would support Labour. They both support a 2 state solution, same as I do. I've met good comrades from both at IUSY events.

3:17 pm, May 31, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are indeed hundreds of political prisoners in Cuba, and they have been held for years without trial under conditions which the UN has condemned as equivalent to torture.

However, these prisoners are all held in the US base at Guantanamo Bay.

According to an Amnesty International report from January this year, there are only 67 prisoners of conscience held in Cuba's own prisons.

4:18 pm, May 31, 2007

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Anonymous, 2 wrongs don't make a right.

The guys in Guantanamo Bay are alleged to have been trying to combat democracy. The ones in Cuban jails are there because they supported democracy.

You selectively quote the Amnesty report, missing out the words "at least" before 69.

Other key passages:

"Freedom of expression, association and movement continued to be severely restricted.
Political dissidents, independent journalists and human rights activists continued to be harassed, intimidated and detained, some without charge or trial.
No releases of prisoners of conscience were reported during the year.
Detention without charge or trial
Scores of people continued to be held without charge on suspicion of counter-revolutionary activities or on unclear charges. Their legal status remained unclear at the end of the year.
Severe restrictions on freedom of expression and association persisted. All print and broadcast media remained under state control. There was a rise in the harassment and intimidation of independent journalists and librarians. People suspected of links with dissident groups or involved in promoting human rights were arrested and detained. There was an increase in arrests on charges of "pre-criminal dangerousness". Access to the Internet remained severely limited outside governmental offices and educational institutions.
There was an increase in the public harassment and intimidation of human rights activists and political dissidents by quasi-official groups in so-called acts of repudiation.
AI last visited Cuba in 1988 and has not been allowed into the country since."

What a nice guy that Comrade Fidel is.

5:13 pm, May 31, 2007

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke wrote: "The guys in Guantanamo Bay are alleged to have been trying to combat democracy. The ones in Cuban jails are there because they supported democracy."

Significant that you happily repeat the allegations of the US government about those held at Guantanamo (who haven't actually be convicted of anything) and ignore the claims of innocence made by many of the prisoners themselves.

Most of the prisoners currently in Cuban prisons are alleged to have collaborated with the US in order to overthrow the Cuban government. That was the charge on which they were convicted.

However, in the case of Cuba you ignore the allegations made by the government and uncritically repeat the prisoners' claims that they were jailed because they had "supported democracy".

Gives us a revealing insight into your political world-view doesn't it?

And the figure cited by Amnesty is 67 prisoners of conscience in Cuba, not 69. That's out of a total population of over 11 million, which hardly indicates a climate of mass political repression.

And this in a country which is directly threatened by the world's most aggressive imperialist power.

All in all, it seems to me that if anything Castro errs on the side of liberalism.

6:07 pm, May 31, 2007

Blogger Sham said...

It is obscene, utterly obscene to have Owen lecturing us about democracy.


Saddam's little bitch has got some nerve.

Chavez? A dictator in all but name.

3:20 pm, June 01, 2007


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