Archive for the 'Ken' Category


Ken suspended from LAB for a year over Hitler comments – not expelled

Tuesday, April 4th, 2017

Typical of Labour to shy away from a decision


Livingstone: symptom of a deeper problem

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

Confronting the ex-mayor means confronting what it means to be Labour

You know you have a PR problem when your party’s second most successful politician this century* is publicly debating at what point in the 1930s Hitler lost the plot.

Labour’s problem runs a great deal deeper than bad publicity though. To be clear, Labour is unlikely to be the only party with members, activists or elected representatives who’ve said or written something stupid or worse but it is likely to have by far the biggest problem.

There are two interrelated reasons for that. Firstly, Labour has been much more successful in courting the ethnic minority vote than other parties but sometimes, with those voters have come imported intolerant attitudes. Electoral motivations act as at best a disincentive to confront those attitudes and at worst, reason to dog whistle to them.

And secondly, Labour has long promoted itself as inclusive, multicultural and tolerant. Indeed, in his interviews yesterday, Corbyn seemed to take Labour’s tolerance as an article of faith; true simply by assertion. That culture makes it harder to criticise ethnic minority members indulging in bigoted or discriminatory behaviour, in part because it undermines Labour’s self-image but more because those attitudes are misguidedly seen as cultural – just an alternative way of doing things – and as such, beyond criticism. Indeed, criticism of attitudes held disproportionately by one group of another are themselves labelled racist.

    In fact, despite Livingstone’s suspension and the Labour’s setting up of the inquiry into anti-Semitism, there are clear signs that Corbyn still doesn’t get it.

His comment that critics were only saying that Labour was in crisis because they’re worried about Labour’s strength implies that he thinks that their charges are illegitimate and politically motivated. But of course, if you start from the position that Labour has exceptional moral virtue then it follows by definition that it cannot have problem with anti-Semitism, therefore it doesn’t. (Of course it doesn’t, its last leader was Jewish, sort of).

Reversing the truck back down the road however won’t be easy. It will mean both confronting that mind-set and probably confronting no small number of members, both those at fault and those willing to defend them. That a petition calling for John Mann to be disciplined has attracted over 12,000 signatures in little more than a day is itself revealing. It’s possible that those signatories simply regard Mann’s public rant as excessive and unbecoming but going by the comments, I suspect it’s more tribal solidarity among the Labour left.

If so, we could be about to see civil war within Labour: a disproportionate number who’d be in the firing line would be either muslims or on the left. Is Corbyn the man to take on such opponents? Of course not. Ken might be let back, he might be persuaded out, he might even be kicked out – but it’d be him and few others.

David Herdson

* Definitional, of course, but no Labour leader other than Blair has won a general election so we have to look at the next level down. Rhodri Morgan might stake a claim too with two Welsh Assembly wins to Ken’s one in London (plus one as an independent) but Wales is much more a Labour heartland and London is much bigger. That said, Ken’s two losses have to be factored in too. In fact, his defeat in 2012 might be Labour’s only silver lining to the row – at least Ken’s not the candidate or mayor right now.


Donald Brind says that if Ken is expelled it will be a Labour gain

Friday, April 29th, 2016


Those who care about the Palestinians have to be careful how they attack Israel

Let me say at the start that I deplore the government of Benjamin Netanyahu which I believe uses overwhelming military power to make life misery for people in neighbouring territories. When the occupied people react violently to the oppression the response ordered by Netanyahu is, I’d argue, routinely disproportionate.

My rather strangulated prose is to illustrate a point. If you believe in justice for the Palestinians be careful about how you attack Israel. There are six million obvious reasons for being sensitive. Although the idea of a Jewish homeland predates the Holocaust the two are now inextricably linked.

Students of dodgy history will relish the similarity between Ken Livingstone’s claims about Hitler and Zionism and those of Netanyahu who told World Zionist Congress that “Hitler only wanted to expel the Jews, but Jerusalem’s Grand Mufti convinced him to exterminate them”. The liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz says that claim “was rejected by most accepted Holocaust scholars.” It has been widely derided on social media, a reminder that Netanyahu doesn’t speak for all Israelis.

When Ken Livingstone was Mayor of London I worked for his brilliant deputy Nicky Gavron. Her German mother was prevented from competing in the 1936 Olympics – because she was a Jew – and fled to Britain. Nicky celebrated the contrast between Berlin Olympics and the 2012 Games in diverse London.

What a pity ex-Mayor Livingstone didn’t talk to his former deputy about the reality of Nazi Germany and about the wisdom of entering into the row about anti-Semitism in the Labour by talking about Hitler and Zionism. But Livingstone doesn’t do wisdom. He is a man-child: 70 going on 17.

    His apparent purpose was to defend the Bradford West MP Naz Shah. He ended up knifing her in the back. And he inflicted collateral damage on his friend, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Now, the fear amongst Labour supporters is that this two-time loser in London Mayoral contests will damage the chances of Sadiq Khan on May 5th. The Survation polling reported by in the last post was taken before the row blew up.

I am still optimistic for Khan – who I first proposed should be Labour’s candidate back in 2009. Whereas Livingstone underperformed Labour’s Assembly team by more than 10% in 2012, Khan’s 16 points lead in the Survation poll is on a par with the Labour lead in the Assembly vote. I think a Khan Mayoralty will be a powerful unifying force in the capital and beyond, leading the fight against anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia.

And I think Naz Shah will also have an important role to play in this area when she has served her suspension. What makes her case different from that of Ken Livingstone is the contrition she has shown in her Commons apology and in an article for Jewish News. She details her heartfelt regret and engagement with Jewish organisations in the search for interfaith understanding.

She is a smart, resilient woman, well-liked amongst her PLP colleagues. Her contrition will, I have no doubt, mean her party membership is restored after a suspension that marks the seriousness of her offence.

Ken Livingstone doesn’t do self doubt. He will seek to tough it out and I expect his lack of contrition to lead to expulsion. I will put that down as a Labour Gain.

Donald Brind


It’s not just LAB that has an anti semitic problem

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

On a day dominated by the extraordinary events within Labour and the suspension of the former Mayor of London, Ken Livingston, Prof Tim Bale has Tweeted about some 2015 polling.

As can be seen those sampled were asked whether they thought that “Jews have too much influence on this country”. 18% of Ukip voters agreed compared with 10% of LAB ones and 9% of Tories.

Tom Mludzinski if ComRes gets it right with this Tweet.

What I find hard is to work out whether this will have any impact in the elections a week today. On the face of it this could damage the red team’s hopes in London though I’ve been impressed by the way Khan has dealt with this.

Mike Smithson


If Sadiq wins the London Mayoralty then Ken could return to the Commons as MP for Tooting

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015


He’d be more use to Corbyn there than in the upper house

There’s been a lot of talk in recent days about the former LAB Mayor of London, Ken Livingston, being made a peer and perhaps becoming his party’s leader in the Lords.

The story I’ve been getting this afternoon is that there’s another plan to enable Ken to return to Westminster. If the betting favourite, Sadiq Khan, does become London Mayor in May’s election then there’ll be a by-election in Tooting which would provide a good opportunity for Ken to become an MP again.

Corbyn, it is being said, is very keen to build up the number of supporters amongst LAB MPs in the Commons and the former Mayor could be more use to him there than in the Lords.

Mike Smithson


David Herdson on how Londoners used their 2nds prefs

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

What are the electoral lessons to be learned?

The vote for London mayor is unusual in many ways, one of which is that because of the electronic counting system, all second preferences are identified and recorded. Last week, the full second preference breakdown for May’s vote was released, and is well worth analysing.

Interestingly, most people who voted for Boris or Ken also cast a second preference despite the almost certain knowledge that their first choice would be in the second stage too.

We perhaps shouldn’t take these second preferences too seriously for that reason but it does stand out that while Paddick of the Lib Dems received almost twice as many Boris second preferences as any other candidate (with the Greens marginally ahead in third of UKIP-in-disguise, Independent Benita and then Ken), Ken’s backers went strongly for the Green as next best, with the Paddick, Boris and Benita trailing some way back.

Of more interest is how those who voted for the candidates knocked out in the first round cast their second preferences. Considering how close the race was, and how critical these votes were to the final outcome, it’s surprising how few transferred.

    Only 57% of those who voted for a minor party (which in this context includes the Lib Dems) gave their second preference to Boris or Ken. Comfortably more votes ‘dropped out’ than accounted for Boris’ majority.

    Perhaps predictably, Ken did best out of the third-placed Greens, but even then he only won 46.7% of her transfers to Boris’ 13.5%. In reverse, Boris took 33.8% of UKIP’s vote to Ken’s 10.3% – but more than half didn’t go to either.

With so many ‘wasted’ second preferences, the obvious conclusion is that far from SV encouraging voters to cast a protest vote first and then transfer to a candidate in with a chance of winning, voters susceptible to squeeze tactics applied it on their first choice – something reinforced by the sheer scale of the combined Boris/Ken first votes.

If that’s right, it does make the analysis far more difficult and less reliable as many votes for what are actually the voter’s second choice (or lower) were nonetheless cast as first preferences. In addition, we know the candidates themselves played a far greater role in determining how people voted than is the case at a general election.

Even so, we can still glean much from what we have. One thing of particular interest is how the Lib Dem vote split, which was marginally for Boris over Ken though we’re talking less than a thousand votes here out of more than two million cast in total. Almost half of Lib Dems refused to transfer it to either man, with the Greens taking the lion’s share of what went begging.

What can we take from all this? Probably three main points to start with. Firstly, the Lib Dems’ support is no longer quite a bit closer to Labour but far more evenly split, even allowing for Boris’ crossover appeal against that of Ken; Lib Dems who were Labour-light are now Labour voters to start with but the biggest second choice is ‘neither’. Secondly, UKIP are not Tories-on-holiday. They are a good deal more Tory-inclined than Labour-leaning but when pushed are even more likely to duck out of a forced choice altogether.

Finally, and leading on from that, one of the biggest current divisions in voting intention – and one which the parties’ campaigning strategies will have to deal with – is between those who are willing to vote for parties of government and those who aren’t.

David Herdson



Could Boris’s successor be another Johnson?

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Is there any point in betting on the 2016 race?

Both PaddyPower and Ladbrokes have now got markets up on the 2015 London mayoral race and there appears to have been a bit of activity with Labour’s Alan Johnson now second favourite with both – 6/1 with the former and 10/1 the latter.

The interest in Alan Johnson stems from comments he made about how him running this time had been a possibility and that he might put his cap into the ring for next time.

Given how close this last race was when Labour came within just 1.5% of victory it’s easy to argue that AJ might have just squeezed it for the red team.

He certainly carries a lot less baggage than Ken and is a far better media performer.

    But what about 2016? Is it ridiculous to start locking up your cash this far out?

That’s a hard call. Before the 2010 general election I had a punt at 14/1 against Ken because it looked a value bet even though then it was far from certain that he would be the Labour candidate. I didn’t win but having the potential winnings allowed me to offset other positions.

Given the way Labour selects its London candidate then the chances must be quite strong of it going to someone as well known and generally well liked as Alan Johnson. At 14/1 I’d be tempted but even 10/1 is too short.

Whether the Tory candidate will be Boris is far from certain. My guess is that by 2016 he’ll be back in the commons and, who knows, could be plotting to win Dave’s job.



Ken still in with a shout with YouGov

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Could he just squeeze in?

The latest YouGov London poll for the Evening Standard is just out and has Boris only 3% ahead on first preferences. That margin is what the US media would call a “statistical dead heat”.

Clearly, if YouGov have got this right, this battle is far closer than the other pollsters who’ve been covering it are making out. Before the weekend ComRes had a Boris 1st preference lead of 9% with Survation recording 11.2%.

Hopefully they’ll both be doing final polls so we can compare.

    I’m putting the emphasis in my reporting on the first preference shares which in polling terms are more robust than the 2nd preference allocations.

    YouGov, on their calculation, reckon that the lead after 2nd prefs is 4%.

The Standard report of the poll states that of the Lib Dem supporters giving either Boris or Ken their second preference, the former got 70%.