Guardian gets it wrong: Ed Miliband can only gain from a Livingstone victory in London’s Mayoral elections

Michael White, the Guardian’s veteran Assistant Editor, has an article today assessing the shape of UK politics over the year ahead.  Although sometimes verbose (a problem I am well aware that I suffer from myself), he is usually extremely perceptive.  Today’s article is therefore well worth reading and I agree with many of his conclusions.

However, there is one line in it that is total nonsense.  After pointing out the threat that reinvigorated Boris Johnson would present to David Cameron if re-elected to the London Mayorality in May, he goes on to say:

“If Ken beats Boris he will make Miliband’s task harder.”

The reality is the exact opposite.  So much so that David Cameron has recognised that his number one priority in 2012 is to ensure that London’s City Hall must remain in Conservative hands.  Not the economy; not the growing housing crisis; not Europe and the Eurozone; but London.  That is the Prime Minister’s priority for the coming year.

Why?  He knows that a Ken Livingstone victory in May would be an essential first step for the Labour Party to win a General Election in 2015.

He also knows that Ken Livingstone’s flair for articulating the impact of Tory policies on the people of London would resonate with millions elsewhere in the country.

The Prime Minister’s grasp on history is probably a little shaky, so he may not be aware that a Labour-run London County Council in the 1930s laid the groundwork for the victorious and reforming Labour Government of 1945: trialling and showcasing how the power of Government can be harnessed to boost the chances of the vast majority of the population.

However, Cameron’s instincts will tell him that a Labour Mayor in City Hall would demonstrate that there  is an alternative to a Conservative-led Government more concerned with the interests of a privileged minority than the rest of society.  (A Conservative trait also shown by Mayor Johnson and his penchant for meeting bankers and representatives of the financial services in preference to other interests in London.)

So if Cameron is so desperate for Ken Livingstone not to be elected in May, it follows that Ed Miliband is, if anything, even keener to see the Conservatives turned out of City Hall in four months time.  This is where Michael White is wrong and dwelling in a 1980s past.  Ken Livingstone has more positive and supportive relations with the national Labour leadership than ever before.

A Livingstone victory will be a boost for Ed Miliband and the Labour Party.  It will be a sign that the people of London have rejected not only a Conservative Mayor but also those Conservative policies being pursued by his friends holding national office.

6 thoughts on “Guardian gets it wrong: Ed Miliband can only gain from a Livingstone victory in London’s Mayoral elections”

  1. The Guardian is an anti Labour newspaper and Michael White has chaired a Tory Selection Conference, written on music for the Dully Torygraph propaganda sheet, helping to sanitise what was once a decent newspaper.

    I don’t particularly agree with Toby that a Red Ken defeat would be quite as deleterious as suggested; there are years between the Mayoral election and the apparent Parliamentary General one.

    Michael White’s presumption in the loathesome Guardian that Bojo will 
    win is goad for Tory trolls in the media and there is no doubt that suchlike feed confidence and are deleterious to Labour suporters’ hopes and motivation. Not to mention the bandwagon effect among the voters.

    There the parrallels with 2007? end in my view. Cameron benefited from Bojo’s win, Ed Miliband would from a Red Ken win. But the foreign owned UK national Tory media will and were against us in both cases and the Guardian is no friend to Labour.

    I don’t know who will win, and those who do should invest heavily at tge anti Labour Ladbtokes who fund sn anti Labour blog (favoured by John Rentoul) by Smithson, but Ed Mili has further to go to his election, and so Red Ken is still more marginal to that outcome than the prancing clown Bojo and his Deputy Mayors farce were last time. 

    The zeitgeist is about right and wrong, wether wisely or not: Red Ken and Ed Miliband can only benefit from that. Cameron is not setting the agenda.

  2. I can’t see how Labour stand to win in any wider sense whatever the outcome of the London Mayoral election. A victory for Boris is a victory for the Tories. A victory for Ken, to anyone outside the capital merely serves to remind everyone that we are still putting up with this throwback to the bad old days, who let us not forget, ran against Labour last time round – whilst he’d been expelled from the party.

    It’s heads we lose, tails we don’t win

  3. Factual correction: Ken Livingstone ran as the Labour candidate in 2004 and 2008 and was selected as candidate for 2012 with two-thirds of the vote.

  4. And I winced slightly when Toby referred to Bojo’s banker courting: Red Ken didn’t go over the top but he worked very successfully with the city. It wasn’t all great diesel deals with Chile for advice on public transport and redevelopment via winning the Olympic bid with Blair and Brown.

  5. Of course, you have to work with the City and London’s business. It is a question of balance: 86 meetings with bankers in 34 months, compared with only 48 with the police, fifteen public meetings and a mere five where he put himself up for public scrutiny at a press conference.

  6. Happy New Year. My concerns with Ken are those that deal with the missing £510,000 that Lee Jasper “lost”. Now this is a legal fact so don’t censor it! Livingstone guilty of massive bad judgement? Also he fails to carry the Jewish community (least round where I am staying anyway).

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