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.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Vote Ken with no illusions

I've just watched the Martin Bright programme on Ken Livingstone on Channel 4's Dispatches. I didn't think much of it as a piece of journalism - superficial, one-sided and in places - such as criticising Ken for promoting London to the EU, China and India, or for spending money on advertising and PR, just silly. The parading of a disillusioned ex-employee, Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone, and Mark Wadsworth (who I believe has an axe to grind) was hardly illuminating.

Most of it was staggeringly unoriginal, and has been rehearsed repeatedly not least here in this blog in the past. I was tempted to scream "I told you so!" at the screen as most of it was arguments those of us in the Dobson campaign tried to get across back in 2000.

I don't disagree with some of the key allegations:

- Ken's key advisers are mainly leading members of what was the International Marxist Group/Socialist Action - a Trot grouping
- His support for Venezuela and Cuba is at best silly, at worst scary
- He probably is encouraging his allies to pursue a vendetta against Trevor Phillips for having the audacity to think about standing against him in 2004
- His views on the Middle East are pretty suspect
- He shouldn't have said what he did to Oliver Finegold

All of these were reasons to vote against Ken being the Labour Candidate for Mayor. But that selection trigger ballot has happened. I was one of a tiny handful of people who voted to trigger him last year - my guess is he got 98% of the vote.

But none of these are valid reasons to vote against him in the election happening in May. For anyone on the left of politics, we don't face a choice between Ken and some imaginary moderate Labour candidate. We face a choice between Ken who, faults and all, is doing a damn good job delivering on his key policy responsibilities of policing, transport and regeneration, and Boris Johnson, a Thatcherite buffoon. A defeat for Ken won't be portrayed as a defeat for Socialist Action or the Labour left, it will be portrayed as a defeat for the Labour Government and Gordon Brown and massively boost David Cameron in the run up to the General Election. That's why - despite working for Dobson in 2000, and neither forgetting nor forgiving even earlier events like the coup against Andrew McIntosh, I will be voting, and actively campaigning for Ken with all the energy I can.

Perhaps the nastiest aspect of the programme were the allegations about alcohol. Apparently Ken sometimes has a scotch before or during public meetings. If this was a disqualification from holding high office then there were not be many MPs left, as I believe some of them do frequent House of Commons bars whilst the House is sitting. Nor would there be any Chancellors of the Exchequer who are actually entitled to a glass of whisky or brandy at the dispatch box whilst delivering the Budget.

All in all, Bright has conducted a mistimed hatchet job that can only help Boris and served no useful purpose. A strange choice of journalistic enterprise for someone allegedly on the left.


Blogger fairdealphil said...

Missed C4's offering, but thanks for confirming my suspicions of their agenda, Luke.


11:46 pm, January 21, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I don't disagree with some of the key allegations". You then list a formidable charge sheet again Livingstone, more then enough to raise issues about the suitability of any candidate for office.

And yet, by some incredible feat of logical gymnastics you then declare your undying loyalty to the cause of Ken, a declaration which you freely admit is because he travels under the Labour banner.

He's going down. You're going down. Never mind Ken. Just look at the complete shitstorm coming out of the City. It's a fucking disaster and Brown has got his dick caught in the whirlwind.

12:37 am, January 22, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Most of the charges I agree with have nothing to do with his performannce in the job b he is up for re-election to though i.e. running a large city.

I wouldn't expect people to take into account my factional alliances, personal vendettas and views on Israel and NATO when I am next up for election to Hackney Council - I'd expect to be judged on whether I sorted out security doors on estates and getting a controlled parking zone.

7:44 am, January 22, 2008

Anonymous Shackers said...

Ken is a drunken crook end of

Liked the bit about Socialist Active starting out in Shacklewell Studios on Shacklewell Lane. Think they'll put up a blue plaque one day

8:15 am, January 22, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The daft attacks against Boris show just how much Labour are cacking it. He may be a buffoon, but your man's seriously worried he'll lose. Time to change candidate, rather than blindly standing by, Jonathan Aitken like. Great to watch though.

9:29 am, January 22, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I wouldn't expect people to take into account my factional alliances, personal vendettas and views on Israel and NATO when I am next up for election to Hackney Council - I'd expect to be judged on whether I sorted out security doors on estates and getting a controlled parking zone."

Another stunning feat of logic. These aspects of your beliefs - roundly advertised on this site - surely have an impact on the success or otherwise of your quest to find a Parliamentary seat.

9:37 am, January 22, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Parliamentary seat - yes, but for a local government position they are irrelevant.

10:07 am, January 22, 2008

Blogger Chris Paul said...

It was a piece of low rent polemic, fulls of smears, grinding axes and simply not thought through.

It was only in the last 10-seconds of his narrative that Bright pointed out that most of his own work was in fact a critique of the job as framed - by Hodge, Raynsford, Blair, Akehurst - and not of Livingstone.

Bright has also been partaking of the "sheiks under the bed" alarming of Policy Exchange and the found out forger Dean Goodson who has history and DNA for this kind of propaganda.

Imagine London run by Boris, old Etonians and Bullers. Doesn't bear thinking about.

Londoners will do so and they will again pick Ken, the anti-establishment heart-of-gold feck you candidate of the Labour Party.

10:19 am, January 22, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

I have to agree with anonymous, Although Ken probably will keep his job but he doesn't deserve it.

It's really amazing that the only honest member is Gerard Batten and true representative of London and Britain.

In 40 years I have never witnessed such an incompetent government and I'm ashamed to have ever voted Labour.

For anyone who watched the vote on referendum yesterday will realise how poor our government really is. And where was Brown, swanning off with Branson & chums across the other side of the world giving away nealy a billion pounds of tax payers money.

Labour are going to be wiped out at the next general.

11:05 am, January 22, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely it's rank hypocrisy for anyone in 'New' Labour to object to Ken being smeared anyway? Dispatches probably sourced most of the material from the Party's own repugnant campaign against him in '00.

11:31 am, January 22, 2008

Anonymous Ted Harvey said...

Luke your description of the London May elections scenario is a telling depiction of just how debased our UK politics have become. Your overall logic sounds dangerously like "he's a son of a bitch but he's our son of a bitch"

Your response is just be actively campaigning "for Ken with all the energy I can". - Surely a true counsel of despair (and I could say hypocrisy if I wanted to be offensive)?

On some particular points: I cannot agree with your easy dismissal of the alcohol issue - my view is that alcohol is a far more insidious and widespread problem in our society than any other drug - it's just that it's not such a fashionable cause, and it has it many excusers and apologists (please take care you do not become one).

The programme did pick up on Ken's competences, or lack of them. For example, aside of the deplorable implications of the Venezuela Oil barter deal (even Chile told Chavez 'no thanks this is a bad deal for your own people',) there was exposure of how the effectiveness of the traffic congestion charge may be unravelling. The funding streams for an oddly consistant model of 'community' businesses that promptly go bust once they are 'awarded' the public funding, is discraceful and either sleazy and incompetant or both.The tax payers funded overseas junkets are just disgusting; but typical of what the London metropolitan elite has long expected as their custom and practice.

London, you're welcome to your game of choice between loathsome Ken and Boris the Buffoon.

12:23 pm, January 22, 2008

Blogger susan press said...

Don't agree with all your points but also agree hatchet job. Winston Churchill was permanently p******.I have also posted my thoughts......

12:31 pm, January 22, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least Boris is a joke candidate for a joke office. We don't need so many layers of government, creaming money off the taxpayer every time we pass go. The office and its powers - and the money it wastes - need reining in. Or at least a rationalisation of the powers as against those of the equally hopeless Boroughs.

12:33 pm, January 22, 2008

Anonymous JamestheRed said...

As a non-Londoner looking in, it appears you have a choice between Ken, who like his party is starting to bare the scars of too long in power; Boris, who surely no-one takes seriously; And Brian Paddick, a popular, sensible candidate from the centre-left. When I heard he was standing I assumed this would at least make it a good 3-way battle, yet all I see is Ken or Boris.

So my question is, why are those on the left disenchanted with Ken not doing more to support Paddick?

12:34 pm, January 22, 2008

Anonymous Richard said...

It's time a for a change for London and the country. People have seen what damage a NuLabour government has done and want them out.

It's clear from public opinion that Ken is no longer very popular. The man has got too used to power and almost expects to win.

12:50 pm, January 22, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the lack of support for Paddick is explained, at least in part, by the fact that he's an utter twat.

3:01 pm, January 22, 2008

Blogger Miller 2.0 said...

"His support for Venezuela ... is at best silly, at worst scary"

I for one just don't get this democratic socialist objection to other people's democratic socialism... or why the stick is wielded against this while Blair is off chatting up the french Tories, and actually gave their presidential candidate his support...

3:24 pm, January 22, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

are there really people who still believe Blair was a socialist? Thatcherite? Perhaps. Socialist? Yeah, right.

3:37 pm, January 22, 2008

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:31 pm, January 22, 2008

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

To be fair to Blair he did espouse some socialist traits, a mass movement for change and his incentives such as the, piece meal restoration of TU rights, minimum wage and NHS funding shows some socialist leanings.
Socialism is a broad church and means different things to different people. I, like many old style socialists would like to see more state ownership and better union laws, other on the right of the party have a different view but just because I don't agree with them I don't doubt they want the same as all of us, a better, more equal world, which is the clear linchpin of socialist thought.

Now on to Ken, what do you mean about his suspect views on the middle east?

4:32 pm, January 22, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

alongside his support for greater private involvement in the health service and tacit support for selection in secondary education. Introduction of citizenship tests for immigrants? A Broad church perhaps, but surely there are limits, even in a tent that big!

4:50 pm, January 22, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke, underlining the point that this election is about a very clear choice indeed between Ken and Boris Johnson, in the last week Ken has announced his first manifesto commitment, to extend the hours of operation of the Freedom Pass so that older people can use it all day, and today - as the London Labour party website reports, he's announced his pledge to extend the student transport discount to Oyster pay-as-you-go.

And his article in the Standard sets out the positive case for continuing on the path London is now on.

All of this is at odds with the relentless negativity of Johnson (and Paddick).

5:43 pm, January 22, 2008

Anonymous Richard said...

Having watched Channels 4's programme on HD just now I can't honestly think why any person with an ounce of honesty would vote for Ken.

The fact that so many Labour supporters are backing him is every reason why we should be very worried about Labour.

Ken is truly a traitor to London and Britain. He's treating the job of mayor to create a state within a state. A state based on ideals not supported by the majority of people living in London or the UK.

He's blatent wasted tax payers money and is a bully in every sense.

I dount he'll be removed but if he is then it is a victory for honesty, justice and Britain.

10:03 pm, January 22, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris Paul is a naive fool for his "sheiks under the bed" remark' When will he learn that we face a serious danger in this country from extremism? Ken has actively placated islamist groups in London and seeks their vote.

That said he is our candidate and none of us want Boris!!!!

11:23 pm, January 22, 2008

Anonymous Shackers said...

Rosemary Emodi, deputy to the Ken Livingstone's chief race adviser Lee Jasper has resigned after lying about a jolly to Nigeria with her boyfriend, Eroll Walters, a close friend of Lee Jasper.
Eroll Walters just happens to be part of Brixton Base Limited and the head of the Black Londoners Forum both of whom receive funding from Lee Jasper who is being investigated by the Met Police for fraud/corruption

It does not matter what the level of Labour Politics is, it is all corrupt. Ken's days are numbered and he will get a real kicking in the election. He can then drink all the Whiskey he wants.

9:07 am, January 23, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shackers misrepresents the Rosemary Emodi issue - here's the GLA statement.


Ken can hardly be blamed if she did not tell his staff the truth - and she's resigned.

What people want to do is avoid a discussion of the real stakes in this election. Such matters as having Boris Johnson in charge of the bus service and the police budget when he has called for big cuts:


Or the fact that he wants to abolish the policy that 50% of all new homes in London should be affordable.

If Johnson were allowed to run London it would be a disaster.

10:13 am, January 23, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

I'm sorry but Ken has close links extreme Islamic groups & communist regimes. Ken is wasting tax payers money and has a wider political agenda.

The guy is a crook and If I was Brown I would of sacked him.

12:37 pm, January 23, 2008

Blogger Ravi Gopaul said...

I don't think Brown (and Dennis Skinner for that matter) wanted him back when Blair allowed for his return to the party, but they were over ruled.

4:08 pm, January 23, 2008

Anonymous tim f said...

Rich, when you say "wasting" taxpayers' money, you mean on police and buses? 'Cause the other way of phrasing that is "spending" taxpayers money, on services the vast majority of Londoners want.

You might get a tax cut under Boris, but you won't be better off 'cause without any police you'll probably get robbed for the difference.

Oh, and as far as I'm concerned, if Ken is pursuing a vendetta against Trevor Phillips, that is a reason to vote FOR him, not against him.

5:22 pm, January 23, 2008

Anonymous stopboris said...

Ken Livingstone has posted on Comment is Free his arguments for why London should stay on its current course. Worth a read especially given all the tedious Tory trolls raising their heads in the comments section.

Meanwhile the editor of the New Nation reminds us of exactly why Boris Johnson should not be mayor:

5:22 pm, January 23, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Well there's more evidence regarding Ken about to hit the news regarding spending.

Ken doesn't deserve the job, Labour should put another candidate forward.

Either that Ken should be sacked. I can't see how this man is good for London

5:31 pm, January 23, 2008

Anonymous Margaret on the Guillotine said...

Look, your argument here is rather weak, complacent and hypocritical, effectively "Livingstone is unfit to hold office - but he's the Labour candidate, so that's OK."

If half of these allegations had been offered against a hypothetical Tory or Liberal mayor, you would have been up the wall - rightly so.

Can't the Labour Party get someone else, who doesn't spend public money on self-promotion or placate extremist groups? Such a person would probably stand a much better chance in May.

7:18 pm, January 23, 2008

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I don't think he's unfit to hold office. Those of Bright's criticisms I agree with are good political reasons why I wouldn't want Ken to be Foreign Secretary, but largely irrelevant to the job of Mayor, which he has done very well.

There's no point people saying Labour could change candidate - which is almost impossible once we have selected anyway - without naming who the alternative would be. There's no one in the Labour Party in London who would remotely match Ken's chance of winning this year.

9:01 pm, January 23, 2008

Blogger Doctor Dunc said...

I don't like to intrude on London matters, but are some people really saying they'd prefer Boris Johnson to Ken Livingstone? Because some of his advisers are members of some obscure group, he enjoys a drink and he has fairly mainstream-to-left-of-centre views on foreign policy? Have you read the charge sheet against Johnson!?

Apart from any of that I, rather controversially, want to dispute the suggestion that Socialist Action actually exists (! I may be being slightly flippant here...!) I came to this radical conclusion many years ago based on the extraordinary truth that I was never asked to join! The same cannot be said of any other sect/group that I can think of! This was despite the fact that I was quite matey with several people widely believed to be part of the group, and involved in organisations widely believed to be fronts of the group. All I can think is that they (secretly) didn't really exist!

9:49 pm, January 23, 2008

Anonymous GW said...

Err To the Boris Chums, dince when has Boris livd in London - Its a bit like the Yakida Facists telling us Swelsh wot labguage we MUST speak in the Valleys or Cardiff

11:55 pm, January 23, 2008

Anonymous highburylibrary said...

Very much agree with Luke.

I'm concerned that such a senior figure in the New Statesman is lending a hand to the Johnson campaign.

I'll be writing to John Kampfner to ask his view on the matter.

It was a totally partisan view, much of which came across as absurd, regardless of whether it was true or not, discrediting Bright as a journalist but on his way down, managing to smear Livingstone as well.

Let's talk about the improvements on the buses, the cheap Oyster fares, his support for affordable housing, and his great green initiatives that really help people such as subsidised insulation and free energy efficient light bulbs!

9:16 am, January 24, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Your arguments are completely flawed. Just because Ken is Labour it makes it ok that he's clearly unfit for public office. This is extremely damaging not just for London but also for the Government.

Any other public servant would have been sacked under these circumstances.

If you actually watched the Channel 4 documentary then you will realise that Kens fare cuts have not been costed.

It beggers belief that the richest city in the world is being subsidised by Venezuela one of the poorest.

Kens tone with members of the assembly, taken on camera, is very unacceptable and shows contempt for the assembly and it's rules.

I can't believe there are so many Labour supporters out there willing to back him.

11:21 am, January 24, 2008

Anonymous Dobbo said...

Anyone remember these wise words from Mr Blair after Ken was elected for the first time

"It is important people understand why I argued so strongly against Ken Livingstone being Labour part candidate. It is because I believe passionately that he will be a disaster for London, financially, for crime and policing, for what he will have the main responsibility"

1:54 pm, January 24, 2008

Anonymous stopboris said...

Rich says: 'Kens tone with members of the assembly, taken on camera, is very unacceptable and shows contempt for the assembly and it's rules.'

What nonsense. The Labour members are worthy of respect, and the Greens vote for Ken's budget, but I for one share Ken's contempt for the Tories and Liberal Democrats. Have you actually seen or heard any of these Tories or followed their voting record? They voted against free travel for children, against the policy that half of all new homes should be affordable, they were against the congestion charge, attacked the Low Emission Zone, voted against every single one of the budgets that have put more police on the streets and improved public transport.

Contempt is not the half of it.

Excellent articles by Steve Richards and Darcus Howe on all of this today:



4:10 pm, January 24, 2008

Anonymous tim f said...

"It is important people understand why I argued so strongly against Ken Livingstone being Labour part candidate. It is because I believe passionately that he will be a disaster for London, financially, for crime and policing, for what he will have the main responsibility"

Has London suffered financially? Are there less police on the streets now than before Ken was Mayor?

(btw, the answers to both those questions are no)

8:22 pm, January 24, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Stopboris, I trust you are aware that such behaviour can actually result in gross misconduct. Bullying in the work place is now a sackable offence. Why is Ken any exception.

London is suffering from his policies. The fare cuts are totally uncosted etc etc etc. You can't defend his position based on good deeds, if he'e unfit and currupt which he clearly is he should be removed and replaced.

Ken is unfit for his position.

11:45 pm, January 24, 2008

Anonymous stopboris said...

Rich said: 'Stopboris, I trust you are aware that such behaviour can actually result in gross misconduct. Bullying in the work place is now a sackable offence. Why is Ken any exception.'

Don't be daft, Ken is perfectly entitled to be as robust with the Assembly as he likes - they sure as hell don't hold back against him.

The Tory group are a rotten shower, and the Liberal Democrats shame themselves through their coalition with the Tories.

2:21 pm, January 25, 2008


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