Today is Ken Livingstone’s birthday. For such a polarising figure, people across the political spectrum have been quick to wish him many happy returns for his 65th year. Opponents are relishing the opportunity to highlight his age and subtly dog-whistle a comparison to his youthful and energetic mayoral rival Oona King. The mayoral nomination battle is heating up with accusations being aimed at King for coordinating a “series of attacks on Ken by Oona King’s supporters, who seem more interested in smearing the ex-mayor than promoting their own candidate.” Reference is given to the “shadowy” @No2Ken Twitter account. Not exactly Watergate but intriguing if there is an connection.
Jim Fitzpatrick MP, a King supporter has ruffled feathers with his demands to Labour general secretary Ray Collins that the selection rules be bent slightly, a suggestion firmly rejected by the party machine. The decision to choose a candidate nearly two years before polling day does seem odd. If the Tories did that in 2006 they probably would have ended up with Steve Norris again.
Despite their protestations that Ken is being victimised, it is amusing to see his team having a go at people fighting dirty, something Ken himself could write the book on. Even if the Labour leadership race is going to remain dull, the Labour movement looks to be splitting down some traditional lines over this battle. It’s certainly going to an amusingly messy side-show.