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Posts tagged ‘Ed Miliband’

15
Apr

Ken’s disloyalty saved Lord Ahmed.

A Labour peer, Lord Nazir Ahmed, was last night suspended from the party after allegedly offering a £10million bounty for the capture of Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

Labour could have avoided what is now a huge embarrassment if they’d kicked the controversial peer out of the party for one of his previous indiscretions. He was jailed in 2009 for sending texts while driving, shortly before being involved in a fatal collision, and he was heavily criticised in 2010 for campaigning for Lutfur Rahman, against the Labour candidate, in the Tower Hamlets mayoral election campaign.

The latter case is particularly interesting. Rahman was barred by the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee after a series of serious allegations made against him, including electoral fraud and links to an extremist organisation called the Islamic Forum of Europe. Coupled with the fact that, according to Chapter 2, Rule A(4)(b) of the Labour Party Rules, anyone who “supports any candidate who stands against an official Labour candidate…shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a party member”, it came as some surprise that Ahmed was allowed to remain in the party.

The problem Ed Miliband faced was that he would have had to apply the same treatment to everyone who campaigned for Rahman. Given one of those people was the party’s London mayoral candidate, any firm action was impossible.

Instead, as we’ve seen frequently since, whenever Ken’s said or done something improper, be it insulting Jews or avoiding tax, Miliband remained timidly quiet…

15
Apr

Labour MP attacks Ken’s tax arrangements.

Labour MP David Winnick is positively fuming at the discovery that some BBC staff avoid income tax by having their income channelled through personal service companies. Winnick, who sits on the culture, media and sport select committee, said:

“I think it is unacceptable that a constituent of mine earning £20,000 a year is potentially paying more in tax proportionally than highly paid executives at the BBC.”

If this is now the Labour Party’s view on such set-ups, I look forward to hearing widespread criticism from Labour MPs of Ken Livingstone’s identical arrangements. Because, you might remember, he too channels his income through a service company, enabling him to pay less than the basic rate of tax – or, to put it a different way, enabling him to pay a lower rate of tax than a City Hall cleaner. And, you might remember, the revelations – wreaking of hypocrisy, as they are – were greeted by silence from the Labour Party, until Ed Miliband eventually weakly insisted that Ken had paid everything he was required to.

Surely Labour wouldn’t set one rule for their London mayoral candidate and one rule for everyone else?

2
Apr

Ed: Tax avoidance (except Ken’s) is a terrible thing.

Here’s what Ed Miliband had to say about tax avoidance earlier:

“Tax avoidance is a terrible thing. It must be cracked down on. I called the other week for a crackdown in relation to some of the overseas territories that are in British hands which can be used as offshore havens. We’ve got to deal with that because if we don’t start in our own back yard, I think we’re going to have trouble getting the international agreement we need on tax avoidance. You’re totally right about tax avoidance – all of the highest standards have to be upheld by HMRC in regard to that.”

It’s a pretty firm message: tax avoidance is a terrible thing, must be cracked down on, we must start in our own back yard if we’re to get any agreement, the highest standards must be upheld by HMRC.

Yet when he was asked the other week about Ken Livingstone’s tax avoidance – and possibly even two cases of tax evasion, depending on the outcome of ongoing HMRC inquiries – he dismissed the issue, insisting Ken had nothing wrong.

In the eyes of Ed Miliband, there’s one rule for Labour’s mayoral candidate and one rule for everyone else.

28
Mar

Labour Against Ken (resignation edition).

Today’s double edition of Labour Against Ken features not just anger at Ken, but a resignation from the Labour Party over his attitude towards Jews. Jessica Elgot writes:

I’m thinking of starting a support group. Our community is full of charities and counselling services covering every cough, spit and ailment in the medical dictionary. But I think we need another.

I’d call it “I used to vote Labour, but now I don’t know what to do.” To those six Labour supporters who wrote a letter to Ed Miliband last week, expressing their concerns about Ken Livingstone’s obsession with Israel, to the brave Jonathan Freedland, I say: “Comrades! You are not alone!” Together, I daresay we could add hundreds of signatures to that letter. Figures seem to suggest one in three Labour voters won’t back Ken.

I imagine we’d sit in a semi-circle, heads in our hands, recalling how Ken campaigned for Lutfur Rahman – an independent with alleged links to the Islamic Forum of Europe – to be mayor of Tower Hamlets, rather than the Labour candidate. We’d grimace at the memory of his chumminess with controversial Islamic cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

This week I plan to return my membership card and cancel my direct debit. I joined because I wanted Labour to stay in government in 2010. I consider myself centre-left, and believe in strong social welfare policies and protecting the NHS from privatisation.

As a member, I am repeatedly asked to campaign with my MP and for Ken. And although his campaign newsletters are now going directly into my junk mail, despite everything, I had some vague notion of being able to grit my teeth and vote Labour in May.

Ken’s remarks last week were not the final straw. The rub is the reaction of the party I felt a loyalty to. The letter came from loyal Labour campaigners and councillors, who were worried about the man their party had picked to represent them.

Can it really be true that nobody in the campaign HQ finds it troubling that Ken believes that all Jews vote Conservative, and that “Jew”, “Israeli” and “Zionist” can be used interchangeably?

Elsewhere, Jennifer Lipman has explained why, as a Jewish Labour supporter, she can’t back Ken Livingstone:

As a Labour voter, I’d really like to be able to support the party at the mayoral election in May. Instead I feel disenfranchised – not because I disagree with what Labour stands for, but because I simply cannot back a candidate who won’t confront concerns about his suitability to run a diverse city.

Let me be clear. Being Jewish is only one part of my identity, and as such it is not the only or even the main factor in how I vote. Still, the problem I have with Ken Livingstone – and I am apparently not alone in feeling that I have to vote against my political allegiances, as a leaked letter to Ed Miliband revealed – is that he is not willing to confront the very real questions over his attitude towards the Jewish community.

It’s not about anti-Semitism. It’s about an entire community feeling uncomfortable in a supposedly inclusive city, their concerns ignored because their political support isn’t considered important. It’s about a mayor who is unrepentant about his friendship with a radical Islamic cleric, and doesn’t see how his cozying up to extremists jars with his claim of a city where “different communities live side by side peacefully”.

Read the full articles here and here.

27
Mar

Damaged Ken calls on Ed Miliband for help.

With all recent polls having showed that Boris is far more popular than his party, whilst Ken is far less popular than his, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Ken is keen that the mayoral battle should be seen as ‘Tories vs Labour’, as opposed to ‘Boris vs Ken’. 

A leaked Labour strategy document, seen by the Evening Standard, acknowledged that Ken had been damaged by the controversy surrounding his tax avoidance, and had struggled to get his case across to Londoners. The new plan, the document revealed, would be to focus on issues coming out of last week’s Budget. In other words, Ken’s campaign has essentially admitted that it can’t win a straight ‘Boris vs Ken’ fight on London issues, so is instead going to focus on other Tory politicians and other – national – issues.

As a visual representation of this new strategy, Ed Miliband, Ed Balls et al headed out to Bromley earlier today to meet voters and talk to the media. At times, Ken was seen almost cowering behind his more popular party leader, as Miliband led the way. Meanwhile Balls desperately tried to convince anyone who would listen that this election is all about George Osborne.

Whether the strategy will be a success or not largely depends on Londoners’ understanding of the Mayoral role, and whether they think it can have an impact on national decisions. However much they might not have liked the Budget – indeed, many of us on the blue side weren’t too keen either – any idea that Ken could have halted or reversed any of the measures is clearly fanciful. Boris is no more responsible for Osborne’s changes to personal allowances than Ken was for Gordon Brown’s scrapping of the 10p rate in 2007.

As Ken demonstrated when he won as an independent in 2000, the London mayoralty isn’t about parties, governments or oppositions. It’s about the character and policies of the individual candidates, and it’s on that criteria that Londoners will base their decisions.

16
Mar

Ed Sillyband.

We were treated to two howlers from Ed Miliband today. Firstly one of the worst attempts at political humour since that Sarah Teather episode…

And then being unable to determine the gender of a bloke with a beard…

13
Mar

Ken’s tax dodging is ‘damaging his party’.

“Ed Miliband has a choice. Show consistency on the issue of personal taxation – politically uncomfortably though that may be for both him and his mayoral candidate – or lay himself open to his own charge of hypocrisy. Ken Livingstone’s tax affairs have already done serious damage to Ken Livingstone. Much more of what we saw yesterday and they will start to do real damage to his leader and his party.”

(Dan Hodges says Labour is tying itself in knots over Ken Livingstone’s taxes.)

12
Mar

Boris lays bare Ken’s naked lies.

Before you scroll any further down the page, I urge you to cover your children’s eyes.

As it emerged today that Ken has been revealing more than he ought to his poor neighbours, Boris has been revealing the extent of Labour’s lies over Ken’s tax scandal. Ken’s immediate riposte when challenged over his extensive tax avoidance was that everyone does it and that “Boris Johnson had exactly the same arrangements to handle his earnings from television”. Elsewhere, when challenged by Harry Cole at a press conference earlier, Ed Miliband echoed Ken’s line – Boris, he said, has a similar tax arrangement.

Complete lies.

In a letter to Guido, Boris has angrily denied the Labour smears.

“My salary as Mayor is taxed as an employee of the GLA. In the same way as when I was an MP my salary was taxed as an employee. Any other income that I have received from outside endeavours has been received on a self-employed basis, to me as an individual (no company or other structure has been involved). No income earned by me has ever been paid to a “service” company, through which a person or person’s freelance earnings can be channeled so that they pay corporation rather than income tax.

To suggest otherwise is a complete and utter fabrication.

Of course the real point is not about my tax arrangements. It is about the hypocrisy of a man who for years has railed against those who use special arrangements to reduce their tax and who has then been caught – bang to rights – doing the very same thing himself.”

Presumably we can now expect an apology from Ken and Ed?

11
Mar

Ed has his head in his hands over Ken’s tax affairs.

Gary Gibbon, Channel 4 political editor, has asked what many are now wondering: why [on earth] did Labour pick Ken? He reckons the primary reason was Labour’s poor finances meaning they needed to hold the mayoral candidacy election at the same time as their leadership election. This meant a relatively rushed timetable and a smaller-than-expected field. This bit particularly amused me:

“By the way, in that Labour leadership contest, Ken backed Ed Balls. He’s since praised Ed Miliband’s leadership to the skies but I understand Mr Miliband has had occasion to wonder whether Ken had his heart in the contest. More recently he’s been more impressed but he must have his head in his hands over the tax affairs story.”

25
Jan

Some questions for Ken Livingstone.

Andrew Sparrow over at the Guardian will be interviewing Ken Livingstone later today, and has invited readers to suggest questions. I thought I’d chip in with a few of my own…