Progressive London


3:33 pm - November 11th 2008

by Aaron Murin-Heath    


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Today welcomes a new progressive force in the capital’s politics, as former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, announces a new coalition to win back London from the Conservatives.

Progressive London is a cross-party coalition that will feature leading figures from the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, Greens, Trade Unions, and leading figures from the capital’s community.

On January 24th 2009, Progressive London will hold a conference to flesh out its plans for London’s future. Key issues include the financial crisis, and the city’s prominence in the financial world. Livingston, in an 8-point plan, has outlined what he thinks London should do to “meet the recession”.

Transport is expected to be one of the main areas of contention, with Livingstone using the coalition launch to attack Boris Johnson on public transport fares:

‘The international financial crisis means that to sustain London as the best city in the world and protect living standards we need more public investment in areas like transport, good housing and improving the environment while, for example, holding down fares and promoting the city’s international openness and multicultural dynamism.

‘This whole approach is challenged by the London Mayor undermining London’s prosperity and pursuing policies like cutting transport investment and pushing up fares for ordinary Londoners while letting Chelsea tractors clog the roads and poison the city’s air.

Among the speakers at the convention will be the MP for Dagenham John Cruddas, who as Dave Hill explains, “is thought by many as the man who could win back some of the mostly white, outer London voters who opted for Boris.”

It’s unclear as to the involvement, if any, of official party leaderships in the coalition.

(hat-tip, with kisses, to Leon)

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About the author
Aaron Murin-Heath is an occasional contributor. He is a writer based in Newark-on-Trent and Tallinn, Estonia. He is both socially and economically liberal. Aaron blogs at tygerland.net.
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Reader comments


Is there a Progressive Tallinn?

Progressive London is a cross-party coalition that will feature leading figures from the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, Greens, Trade Unions,

Speaking as ‘regressive ‘ (apparently ) this coalition shows quite clearly that anyone opposing Brown had better not vote Liberal and that the Liberal Party are the Labour Party`s familiar , as if we didn`t know .
Thanks , you have given me stick to beat our local MP with and any other Liberal pretending they are not actually Labour-lite.

cjcjc,

Is there a Progressive Tallinn?

Please tell me what that has to do with a “news” item. Also I’m the UK at the moment.

newsmania,

Thanks , you have given me stick to beat our local MP with and any other Liberal pretending they are not actually Labour-lite.

From what I can see, there is no official involvement from the parties in question.

So Ken is digging back into pre-Labour Party history when London elections used to be fought between Progressives and Moderates; each only very roughly aligned with the Liberal and Conservative national parties. Can it be that Ken is unhappy at being identified with New Labour? and possibly hopes Boris will be come unhappy at being identified with the Caneroons?

Oi! Where’s my hat tip mofo!? 😛

Just kidding mate, this is entirely the kind of thing I expect LC and it’s bloggers will take an active interest in.

That said my cynical streak can’t but help feel this may be Ken’s clever way of building a base to run from as Mayor should he not be selected for Labour in 2012…perhaps some of our Boris watching friends can give us some more detail about this?

“That said my cynical streak can’t but help feel this may be Ken’s clever way of building a base to run from as Mayor should he not be selected for Labour in 2012…perhaps some of our Boris watching friends can give us some more detail about this?”

I don’t think so, or it would be unlikely that John Cruddas, Len Duvall, Claude Moraes etc. would get involved.

Ben

Hi Leon, hat-tip and more added ;o)

That said my cynical streak can’t but help feel this may be Ken’s clever way of building a base to run from as Mayor should he not be selected for Labour in 2012…

Agreed. Or maybe Ken is playing his hand, and making sure his nomination is inevitable.

Interesting….good luck to progressive London…can’t help but wonder if this could be the shape of things to come post general election??

@ Aaron, heh. 😀

I don’t think so, or it would be unlikely that John Cruddas, Len Duvall, Claude Moraes etc. would get involved.

Hmmm speaking at the launch conference doesn’t really mean involvement does it? Besides Ken who exactly is behind this? All the site says is:

The campaign was inaugurated by Ken Livingstone, but it aims to build a broad alliance of individuals, campaigns, communities, artists, trade unions, environmentalists, political parties and groups, and all those who believe in social justice, environmental protection, good community relations, cultural innovation and the many other areas in which London has made a contribution recognised throughout the world.

Again I don’t want to clip it’s wings with my cynicism but every time I read something like the above and it’s lefty my first question is ” which far left group is this a front for?”…

Who else is involved? How is it organised? Does it have any resources (volunteers, money, offices) and where did they come from?

Hang on. Going to attack Boris for transport fares? Which became the highest of any capital under Livingstone? When that was a 33% hike and not a 6%? Righty-ho then, Ken.

From what I can see, there is no official involvement from the parties in question.

So what ?

So what ?

So, who’s behind it?

“Who else is involved? How is it organised? Does it have any resources (volunteers, money, offices) and where did they come from?”

All good questions, for which, sadly, I don’t have answers.

Ben

Ken really can’t get over losing can he? Risk for the progressives is this will just be seen as Ken’s “give me back the job” hobby horse. How about some fresh faces from the Left?

So what ?

I would argue that if the party itself isn’t involved, and your MP isn’t one of the coalition members, I don’t see what it’s got to do with him.

That said, it’s your MP and your prerogative, so go nuts!

I was invited to take part in a bloggers panel discussion at the PL conference with Tom from Boris Watch and Martin from Mayorwatch. We will talk about what Boris has done in power and what role bloggers have in London etc etc. However, as Leon said above, speaking there is not the same as an endorsement.

The Liberal Democrat and Green leaders on the London Assembly will also be talking there. Like any coalition, different people want different things out of it. Obviously Ken has his own motivations.

On the London Assembly, all of the ‘left’ parties have been broadly in opposition to Boris Johnson’s major policies so far. I expect they will want to emphasise that at the conference. Unlike national politics, opposition parties on the assembly do not otherwise have much of a public voice against the mayor (there is no ‘shadow mayor’ for instance). I expect they hope this will help them get one.

Seconded, Adam – I’m taking part because I’ve, at various points, voted for all the parties mentioned there, but never for the Conservatives. Boris is busy proving why – his policies betray his instincts as illiberal, regressive and bad for the environment. People like Jenny Jones, Len Duvall and Mike Tuffrey have, as opposition AMs, bugger all power but quite a lot in common politically, so why not bring what they have together, er, together, to try and form what London has lacked so far, proper opposition?

As for who’s behind it, it’s the chap with the whiny voice and the newts. Hardly a state secret, is it?

EJB – fares, eh?
One point is that *Britain’s* transport fares are higher than the rest of the world – London’s, certainly for buses (the Tube is a one-off, of course), are mostly *less* than the rest of the UK. As an example, a single two miles into Birmingham from my parent’s is £1.50, in London it would be 90p. In 2000 it would have been £1 in London, so it’s actually gone down in cash terms, let alone allowing for inflation. Travelcard fare rises are partially outside Mayoral control, which again emphasises that there’s a UK-wide problem of fares being extortionate under the privatised rail structure. I’ll leave as an exercise for the reader to dig up Boris Johnson and Ken Livingstone’s expressed views on privatised railways.

The other point is that Boris has (quietly) announced that he’s putting fares up at RPI+1% for the next few years, but the quid pro quo on previous fare rises, congestion charge etc. has been that there’s a lot of investment led by competent professionals directed by people who actually understand public transport. This is no longer the case, although at least we’ve still got the competent professionals. Therefore a kind of agreement has been broken, and we’re entitled to ask why he thinks its necessary to put fares up, particularly if he’s so shit hot at saving money, runs things so much more efficiently and is totally averse to spending money even looking at new projects. Where’s the cash going, Boris?

Ask not what your city can do for you: ask what you can do for your city.

I’ll be getting involved!

When did we get co-opted into the Re-elect Ken thing then? Not something I, as a Liberal, want any part of.

Blimey so the Liberal Party is openly endorsing Ken Livingstone in cahoots with his SWP cohorts , against Bori s. Given that the votes that actually win and lose Lib Dem seats are wavering Tories I am fairly amazed at the men in beards courting this sort of Publicity

This could be good !
( Dale might like it )

John Cruddas! The man who bought a home in Notting Hill so his kids didn’t have to go to the same schools as his constituents. Another ‘kin socialist hypocrite.

Good to see Boris is gradually dismantling Ken’s bureaucracy, money for cronies and expensive pet projects to give us Londoners value for money.

Ken Ivingstone is only progressive in that he has spent the last 30 yrs progressing his career in local government politics. The last thing KL and his failed trot SWP/Socialist Alliance cohorts want is a well educated well trained indpendent minded electorate who would rather support themselves that rely on state hand outs. If we want progressive politics , then we should stop civil servants in local government standing as councillors. Local government has become a massive employment bureau for middle class white collar labour voting administrators. A highly educated and skilled fit population bursting with initiative, entrepreneurial and pioneering spririt would make many people on the government gravy train surplus to requirements.

Whilst I’m aware LC is a broad church and we’ve a lot of differing viewpoints, I’m fairly sure that “if you’d rather Boris than Ken, you don’t belong here” is a pretty strong guiding maxim.

This is utter win, I’m there, we should all be there, and I’m mildly grumpy that whoever invited Aaron and Tom never invited me…

This is utter win, I’m there, we should all be there, and I’m mildly grumpy that whoever invited Aaron and Tom never invited me… John Band

Whooaaah there! I’ve not been invited. And as as I flit between Nottingham and Tallinn, it’s unlikely I’d be able to attend anyway. I’m not a Londoner.

Maybe you mean Adam.

Ooops. If I try and excuse myself by saying stuff about confusing eastern European last names and first names, that’ll only make things worse, won’t it?

For the avoidance of doubt, I meant Adam and Tom…

No invite for me either!

Possbly because I’m opposed to Ken running as mayor next time 🙂

As far as I can see from the website PL = Ken and not much more.
Ken’s plan, Ken this, Ken that, Ken the other….
Prepared to offer good odds that it will be moribund well before 2012.

EJB – I was going to make a similar point.
And didn’t Ken lie about fare increases in the 2004 election campaign?
Anyway, who cares? These are simply his death throes.

As for who’s behind it, it’s the chap with the whiny voice and the newts. Hardly a state secret, is it?

So he built the website, wrote all the content, is organising the event on his own (plus will be running it on the day solo), paying 5-10 grand out of his own pocket for the venue then?

Well looking at the website he did write all the content which is all about…him!
Building it is hardly a difficult or expensive undertaking.
Anyway, how much does he earn from the radio, media, Chavez consulting etc?
10 grand… or more…wouldn’t be much, certainly not for this kind of ego-stroking exercise.

While it’s great to see an attempt to build a broad alliance online to build a better London it’s really disappointing that this alliance is not broad enough to include the young people of London.

Social justice, environmental protection, good community relations and cultural innovation” are all issues that affect young people in the capital but nowhere on the Progressive London website are young people mentioned and there is no sign whatsoever that Progressive London has any policies to help them and to be honest it really isn’t good enough Ken.

If many of the problems associated with young people in the capital including gang culture and knife crime are to be tackled, organisations such as Progressive London need to give London’s youth a voice. At BeatBullying (www.beatbullying.org) we’re actively involving young people in our attempts to improve the city they live in through schemes such as Peer Mentoring and Peer Listening which place trained young people as the first line of intervention against bullying and youth violence”

Young people are very much the future of a progressive capital. We need to make sure that they are empowered in attempts to improve it, not left out and then blamed for the consequences.

Emma-Jane Cross, Chief Executive of Beatbullying

Maybe I’m missing something here but why doesn’t Ken help Boris to make London a greater city instead of trying to fight him to get London back under his control ? Boris was overwhelmingly supported because we had had enough of Ken. Its like McCain trying to undermine Obama and even he is calling for the parties to work together. What a waste of energy.

And Emma, I believe that the Labour nanny state policies have directly increased the number of bullies and gang members by allowing the proliferation of fatherless families. Isn’t it time for a change – at least give Boris a chance?

Boris was overwhelmingly supported because we had had enough of Ken.

Not strictly true that is it; Ken’s vote was down due to the failings of the national party in power and a nasty smear campaign by the Evening Standard.

Boris was voted in by huge landslide nor is it clear that the whole of London had ‘had enough’ of Ken…

I think the reason that MayorWatch, Boriswatch and Torytroll are all speaking is obvious – because they are the main websites (along with Dave Hill) holding Boris Johnson to account. In doing so they have often made news – for example see the Dave Hill routemaster expose during the election and Torytroll’s Gilligan sockpuppeting extravaganza (and Gilligan’s attacks on Boriswatch in his Standard column).

Ken’s doing the right thing here however you look at it, pulling together the anti-Tory political strands in London to discuss how to preserve what’s good and continue to improve things.

Finally I slightly disagree with Leon – Ken’s vote was actually up.

Yeah I just had that pointed out by a colleague…

Anyone who thinks that Livingstone lost due to his personal unpopularity, rather than Labour’s national unpopularity, is silly. He massively outperformed Labour’s nationwide council vote and its opinion poll ratings – just not by enough.


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