Months before Labour selected a candidate for Mayor of London, Guido chatted with a senior City Hall Tory politico, asking him who he really preferred to fight; Oona or Ken? Without hesitating he said “Oona so long as Ken stands as an independent again. If not, Ken”. He got his wish…
That was a real fear for Labour. If Ken wasn’t their candidate, he would still be a candidate. The Labour machine could have selected Oona if it really wanted. It didn’t kick into action against his cynically parasitical organisation. Not because Ken outwitted them, it was because they feared a rogue Ken again, be in no doubt that if the Labour establishment and Labour HQ really wanted they could have stopped Ken being their chosen candidate. Implicit blackmail by Ken when Labour was reeling from losing the general election got him the candidacy.
Labour will spin and blame it on a ruthlessly negative Lynton Crosby campaign, and in many ways it was a classic, however it was only workable because Ken has so many negatives to mine. That type of campaign could not have been run against Oona. She is too fresh, too funky London and too centrist. Labour lost London they day they succumbed to Ken’s blackmail.
YouGov, who were the most accurate pollsters in London 4 years ago, have produced projections for the Greater London Assembly. The good news is they expect the BNP to be wiped out, the bad news is that London could be looking at a Red-Green majority in the assembly trying to thwart Boris on cost cutting. In Germany Red-Green governed cities have veered to the far left.
It is still close and with the Tories polling double digits behind Labour since the budget, Boris has to overcome a tough national polling deficit. Paddick, despite being a better candidate than he was in 2008, is not expected to poll in double digits and UKIP are projected to cement their claim to be the third party gaining two seats and equaling the LibDems. The graphic below shows how London became Boris Town in 2008:
The suburbs besieged inner London to take control of City Hall from Red Ken…
While mentioning his race-baiting, tax avoidance and warning that if he wins he will be on “probation”, the Guardian has held its snooty nose and endorsed Ken. In an attempt to give some lukewarm covering fire today they claim that Boris has been using campaign office space donated by Lycamobile who have not paid corporation tax – a brave line of attack given Ken’s voodoo accounting. Lycamobile did not pay tax because they haven’t made any profits yet. HRMC don’t tax companies on their losses. Which is lucky for the Guardian…
Guardian News & Media, which publishes the Guardian, doesn’t pay tax because it makes a loss every year. GNM is subsidised by its investment funds and its joint-ownership of AutoTrader. The joint-ownership is with, of course, a private equity firm. Some may consider the Guardian, on this basis, to be appalling hypocrites…
First Sugar, then Winston and now Lord Desai:
“London is changing so fast that I wish the Labour Party had found a better candidate… London does need a dynamic, innovative Mayor — there is no doubt about that. Ken just does not have it. It’s a lack of new ideas. When I see him talking, he is still talking about what he did before. He’s still living in the past.”
Labour MPs are silent about Ken today, in fact the only person cheer-leading seems to be George Galloway. Not long now…
Cue much hand-wringing…
That well known vote winner Neil Kinnock has ridden to Ken’s rescue today by signing a letter demanding Labour fall into line and vote for him. He seems to have changed his tune from 2000 when he lashed out at Ken’s disloyalty, telling Kevin Maguire of the Guardian:
“Ken Livingstone has only ever belonged to one party – the Ken Livingstone party”
Other signatories include Alastair Campbell, who once described Ken as an “egomaniac” and did everything he could to stop him coming to power in 2000. Though plenty of London MPs have signed the letter, it’s interesting to note that neither Diane Abbott or Meg Hillier have done so. Perhaps the two Hackney MPs still remember what their predecessor Brian Sedgemore had to say about Ken:
“Ken is a sad and lonely figure. He continually portrays himself as a victim when he is in fact a destructive manipulator. If you slice him through the middle what you see is a man whose heart does not pump for the Labour party but who is completely obsessed with himself. I don’t see why London has to suffer because he hasn’t fulfilled his ambition to be party leader.”
Meanwhile, as the Standard comes out for Boris, more well-known lefties are running for the hills today. The Indy’s John Rentoul and Dan Hodges have both declared that in this two-horse race it has to be Boris. Peter Hain is leading the public charge against them.
Because he’s never changed sides…
UPDATE: Oh dear Peter. Lets turn to page 159/60 of Hain’s autobiography Outside In:
“I wanted to be effective, to be able to make a real difference. And that meant learning what not to do from Ken Livingstone … he seemed to go out of his way to make enemies.”
A good spot by Though Cowards Flinch.
Only a month ago Ken said he wanted to drop negative campaigning:
I suggest to Boris Johnson therefore that he and I work together to raise the tone and spirit of this election. Let us talk about what really matters to each and every Londoner, and end the X-Factor slug-fest.
We want to concentrate vigorously on those issues that can make Londoners better off over the next month of this campaign.
As you can see Ken’s campaign today paints Boris as an alien blue slug. Not exactly a positive focus on the issues…
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Dan Hodges on Team Miliband:
“‘Poisonous’, was the picture painted by one former senior advisor. ‘Dysfunctional,’ said one shadow cabinet member. ‘A bunch of medieval courtiers, not an office,’ said another. The most positive description I could get was ‘It’s a work in progress. They’re learning. Slowly. But they are learning.’”