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Posts tagged ‘Labour’


Quote of the day: Rob Marchant.

“It’s not about right vs left, it’s about decent vs indecent politics.”

(Rob Marchant defends the increasing number of Labour supporters who are backing Boris.)


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?


Labour Against Ken (Hodges edition).

Today’s edition of ‘Labour Against Ken’ features a merciless attack from Dan Hodges. I recommend a read of the whole thing, but these are some of the most stinging bits:

There is an old saying in politics that if you’re going to tell a lie, tell a huge one, because the sheer audacity of the statement will lend it credibility. Livingstone has just used a similar technique, though in this instance not to dissemble, but to denigrate.

The stereotype of the rich, socially divisive Jew is so offensive, so burdened by historical prejudice, that it is on a par with the ignorant but sexually virile black or the scheming, untrustworthy Oriental. And yet it has not been evoked by Nick Griffin or one of the English Defence League’s plastic stormtroopers, but Labour’s official candidate.

And what has the reaction been from the party that claims to be in the vanguard of the fight against prejudice? Silence. Actually, more shameful than silence. Tacit approval.

Ken Livingstone cares about one thing: Ken Livingstone. His sole interest in London is that he is allowed to run it. His sole interest in Londoners is that they constitute the Balkanised electorate that can deliver him the power he craves. And his sole interest in the Labour party is that it currently provides the vehicle through which he can achieve his ambition.

But Labour pretends to see no evil. There is no lie too great, no policy proposal too outlandish, no slur too offensive. The Livingstone tail continues to wag the Labour dog. Ken is not in fact Labour’s candidate; Labour is Ken’s candidate.

Enough. Livingstone is indeed Labour’s candidate. And that is precisely why he and his comments should be condemned. In fact his grotesque stereotyping of the Jewish community should mean he is not only condemned, but stripped of his candidacy. But he won’t be. Ed Miliband is too weak. Labour’s army of youthful London activists too star-struck. Its MPs too keen on a quiet life.


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.


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.”


H&F Labour leader “will campaign for Boris”.

I enjoyed this. Stephen Cowan, Labour Leader of the Opposition in Hammersmith & Fulham, inadvertently backs Boris…


Government cuts: a letter to Ken Livingstone.

Dear Ken,

Following Ed Balls’ announcement that Labour now backs the government’s public sector pay freeze and accepts the government’s cuts, I have a number of questions for you.

1) Do you still believe, as you said when you backed him for the Labour leadership in 2010, that Ed Balls “gets all the big judgements right”.

2) If so, can I assume that you think this latest big judgement from Ed Balls is the right thing to do?

3) If so, by logical extension, can I assume that you too now accept that there is no alternative and that the government’s cuts – however uncomfortable they may be – are fiscally necessary?

4) Will you now cease describing the government’s cuts as ‘ideological’, given your party accepts their necessity and would not reverse them?

5) Will you now admit that blaming the London riots on the Tories, as you did, was mere desperate opportunism, given that even if cuts did prompt the riots (in itself a dubious claim at best), there would seemingly have been near-identical conditions under Labour.

6) If your union backers now pick a fight with your party, whose side will you be on?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

Boris Backer


Tom Harris: Shock as politician takes holiday.

Labour MP Tom Harris has taken a sarcastic dig at those on his own side who criticised Boris for taking a Christmas holiday…


Shock as Eddie Izzard finds himself on winning side.

For those who have followed Eddie Izzard’s career with amusement (albeit perhaps not the kind of amusement he aims to produce), it was a shock of near-epic proportions to see him emerge on the winning side on last night’s Big Fat Quiz of the Year. Indeed, his shock (right) seemed almost as great as mine.

This is a man who has constantly, repeatedly and invariably found himself on the losing side in life – particularly when he’s stepped out of his comedy comfort zone into the far trickier world of politics.

He’s argued for years that the UK should integrate further into the European Union, and has been one of the loudest advocates of Britain joining the Euro – a stance that now seems comically foolish, given the currency’s current troubles. Almost as foolish as the below photo of him stood next to a billboard suggesting Britain was heading for some kind of national ruin by not signing up to the single currency.

Izzard’s next big political passion was Gordon Brown. He was a full-throated backer of the man recognised by most as one of the worst Prime Ministers this country’s ever seen. His biggest contribution to the Labour cause during Brown’s premiership was appearing in party political broadcasts – firstly at the 2009 European elections (at which Labour came third, behind UKIP) and again at the 2010 General Election (at which Labour were kicked out of power, having lost nearly 100 seats).

Izzard carried on incorrigibly to help lead the ‘Yes’ campaign at the AV referendum. In the lead-up to polling day, he embarked on a vainglorious whistle-stop tour of the UK, to drum up support for the proposed new electoral system. The tour had no impact whatsoever (in fact, polls worsened for his side), and ‘Yes’ was defeated by more than 2 to 1 – ending any chance of electoral reform for at least a generation.

And what of Eddie’s next big project? But of course – he’s backing Ken, isn’t he? Only time will tell whether the Big Fat Quiz marks a sea change in Izzard’s fortunes, or if ‘Ken for London’ will be yet another embarrassing black mark on his political copybook.


Ken’s got his strategy wrong.

Leaked documents obtained by the Evening Standard last week reveal that Ken Livingstone’s main electoral strategy is to remind voters which party Boris represents. On discovering that Boris is a Conservative, the voters will – so the plan goes – recoil in horror and flock in droves to back Ken. I’ve been mulling the strategy over for a couple of days, and I think that while it’s clever in theory to pin a candidate to his less popular party, it will fail in practice for a number of reasons.

Firstly, I find the language of the plans strange. They suggest that this is in some way a new strategy – that, as from January, they will start reminding people of the link between Boris and the Tories. The fact is that they’ve already been doing it for over a year – when selected as Labour’s candidate for the mayoral race Ken said he would be the voice of opposition to “Boris, Cameron and Osborne”; during the London riots, he (hilariously) attempted to pin the blame on “Boris and the government’s EMA cuts”; in his conference speech in September, he mentioned ‘Tories’ or ‘Tory’ a dozen times in as many minutes. And with what outcome? An 8% lead in the polls for Boris. It’s not hurting and it’s not working, to mis-quote my favourite leftie inanity.

Secondly, if the big strategy is to link Boris to Cameron, the obvious response will be to link Ken to Ed Miliband. Given Cameron’s far better ratings (as reported by the Guardian in a rare moment of frankness yesterday – see pic), it seems unlikely that Ken would be the beneficiary of those comparable associations. Indeed, whereas Boris and Cameron’s differences are much documented, Ken has attached himself to the Labour leadership far more than ever before – declaring Miliband to be the first Labour leader that he’s actually got on with. To be so closely associated to a leader who epitomises weakness and indecisiveness doesn’t strike me as the cleverest tactic.

Thirdly, at a broader level, Ken’s still making Boris the focus and subject of what is a hugely negative campaign. Even the Guardian aren’t convinced that’s the right strategy, given Boris is the more personally popular candidate. In an article today, which can only be described as sympathetic towards Boris, they quote Peter Kellner, president of YouGov, who argues that Ken needs to completely de-personalise his campaign if he’s to stand any chance of winning. That means an end to Bullingdon and Eton jibes, an end to the inane #GetAGripBoris!! shrieks on Twitter, an end to supporters dressed in chicken outfits, an end to comparing Boris to Hitler, and an end to desperately trying to paint Boris as in some way draconian or evil. Whether a candidate as bitter and vengeful as Ken can bring himself to end the personal attacks, to frankly grow up a bit, remains to be seen. I have my doubts.