A history lesson for Jon Cruddas
In today's Guardian Jon Cruddas describes Ken Livingstone as "the greatest London Labour politician ever."
I'm not about to revert to having a go at Ken, having spent the last six weeks canvassing for him, but Cruddas' description is just silly and betrays a profound ignorance of London Labour history. Given Ken's own knowledge of Labour history I think he would feel rather embarrassed by Cruddas' remark, which surely qualifies for Private Eye's OBN column.
"The greatest London Labour politician ever" was by any objective measure Herbert Morrison. Read his wikipedia biog to understand why.
Here's the Ken vs. Herbert scorecard:
Herbert: Played 2, Won 2 (1934, 1938) admittedly on better boundaries than the current ones.
Ken: Played 2, Won 1, Lost 1 (2004, 2008) - in 2000 he was not the candidate of the London Labour Party, and in 1981 Andrew MacIntosh rather than Ken won the GLC election.
Achievements in office:
Herbert: creating the Green Belt, unifying the transport system, building vast quantities of social housing, replacing Waterloo Bridge, modernising hospitals (the LCC ran many of them until creation of the NHS), school improvements, smaller class sizes, programme of building swimming pools & lidos
Ken: bringing the Olympics to London, cutting crime, improving public transport, the Congestion Charge (admittedly with far fewer powers than Herbert)
Herbert: Set up the London Labour Party. General Secretary of it for three decades, organised Labour's 1945 General Election landslide, including deliberately moving seat himself to fight marginal Lewisham East
Ken: not really his forte
Career beyond London on the national stage:
Herbert: MP for Hackney South 1923-4, 1929-31, 1935-45, MP for Lewisham E 1945-50, MP for Lewisham S 1950-59; Home Secretary through most of World War 2; Deputy PM to Attlee 1945-51; Deputy Leader of the Labour Party 1945-55; Foreign Secretary
Ken: MP for Brent E 1987-2001.
You could argue a case that Clem Attlee was also a "London Labour politician" having been Mayor of Stepney and then MP for Limehouse and Walthamstow West; or even for Ernie Bevin who despite his Bristol roots was MP for Wandsworth Central and Woolwich East. Presumably Cruddas has heard of the creater of the welfare state and the founder of both the TGWU and NATO.
I'm happy for Ken to take his seat in the pantheon of London Labour greats, but Mr Cruddas shouldn't forget that the London Labour Party he, Ken and I are active in wouldn't exist if it wasn't for Herbert Morrison.