Jon Cruddas for Mayor of London: the campaign starts here


9:01 am - May 27th 2010

by Sunny Hundal    


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Jon Cruddas must be persuaded to run for Mayor of London: he is the only candidate who can win against Boris.

A few years ago I said, ‘If Ken stands for Mayor, the left is in deep trouble‘ and most of those points still hold true. Ken has been working hard for the past two years to build a re-election vehicle that has kept him in the limelight and kept out potential opponents.

But Ken can’t win against Boris. He lost once and there are no reasons why he would win the second time around. And before readers respond with: ‘but he polled higher than Labour’s national vote‘: let me deflate that line.

A lot of the anti-Boris vote was predicated on how nasty he was going to be. But Boris has gone out of his way to look nice and cuddly, to the point that his own allies have been criticising him for being too soft on diversity issues and cosying up to Muslims. Just ask Harry Phibbs.

Meanwhile, the constituency that came out in big numbers to vote out Ken has not gone away. Why would they let him in this time? Furthermore, I said after the Progressive London event that Ken still has loads of baggage from the old days and no new ideas. His only narrative is to keep criticising bankers, but he was cosying up to them quite nicely while in office.

I know there are lots of Ken supporters out there. But I want a Labour candidate to win in London and we have to think strategically. If Ken is the candidate then its says the party is out of fresh talent and ideas. Plus, he can’t win!

Oona King has also thrown her hat into the ring. I’ve met Oona a few times and she’s a genuinely lovely person, but as Adam Bienkov points out – it’s not clear what she stands for. I’m deeply sceptical she could win against Boris. That platform is extremely lightweight.

Jon Cruddas on the other hand already has a huge loyal base.

He mobilised thousands of people before the election and did a vast amount of groundwork to win Dagenham against the odds. He gets community organising, he is to the left of the party, he is not tainted by Blair, he is an intellectual powerhouse and he could tear Boris to shreds in a debate. He has no negatives and no baggage. And he can relate to ordinary Londoners in a way that Boris can’t even hope to do.

And perhaps most importantly: we need a vibrant and proper debate for what the Labour candidate for Mayor of London would actually offer. If it’s just Ken v Oona, I fear we won’t get a debate as much as a coronation. That would be terrible for the party.

The deadline for the nomination is 9th June. Even if you’re a Ken supporter, you should be encouraging Jon Cruddas to run so we can have a proper debate about what each of the candidate’s vision is.

There’s also the obligatory Facebook group.

As far as I’m aware, Jon has considered running but is sceptical. It’s up to us to persuade him to run.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


Sorry Sunny but this article doesn’t really stack up.

Why do you say Ken has no new ideas? As Mayor he presented an alternative direction for Labour in power. As Blair and Brown became more timid or went backwards, Ken was leading international coalitions on climate change, he was at the forefront of supporting immigration and multiculturalism, he promoted the living wage.

And I really don’t get your point that those who voted against Ken last time are guaranteed to do so again. You also say on twitter that Labour is less popular now than it was in 2008, so therefore Ken can’t win in 2012. Well Sunny things change, and people decide to vote different ways. Any Labour candidate would have lost a mayoral election in May 2010 but after two years of Con-Dem public spending cuts how can you be so confident Ken couldn’t win? Especially as he has been the leading advocate of an alternative economic strategy – that of investment rather than cuts.

And while I’m actually quite a fan of Cruddas in many ways but in what way is Cruddas not tainted by Blair? Or at least, how do you judge whether anyone is? He worked for 10 Downing Street, he supported the invasion of Iraq, ID cards, anti-terror attacks on civil liberties, foundation hospitals – surprised you of all people are so willing to overlook these. Actually Cruddas has moved on from a lot of this, expressed his regret over Iraq in the deputy leadership campaign and voted against Trident, all credit to him, but that ‘baggage’ is still there.

2. twoseventwo

First, Livingstone lost in an incredibly tough national atmosphere for Labour. If the picture for the party improves (which it possibly already has), he can win again. I’m agnostic about whether he’d actually be the best mayor.

Second, Boris by all accounts had ambitions to succeed Cameron, and may not stand again.

Third, do you definitely know that Cruddas wants the job?

he could tear Boris to shreds in a debate

I doubt it. Boris is an extremely competent debater (as you would expect), plus the three-way format for Mayoral debates make it almost impossbile for anyone to rip anyone to shreds. Livingstone certainly never laid a glove on him.

4. Mike Killingworth

I agree with much of what Richard and twoseventwo say. I also think it’s too early to criticise Oona for being a policy-free zone: it is perfectly reasonable for her to sell her back-story at the moment, especially given that she’s taking on the man most Labour supporters have seen as “Mr London” these last thirty years.

It’s not at all clear to me that Cruddas could win more votes than either Ken or Oona (I also think that people with surnames that lend themselves to parody should think twice about standing for high office – you won’t catch me doing it :lol:).

It is also perhaps worth bearing in mind that the next Mayor will have to implement the Coalition’s de-funding of the Freedom Pass (in itself a good enough reason for any candidate to pass) and be a sight less “cuddly” than Boris has managed to be so far (cue for Ms Penny, in pirate costume, to lay about her with a cutlass denouncing Johnson’s sexism and SH and MK’s complicity therein).

There is also the possibility – as twoseventwo points out – that Boris might not stand. The next Labour candidate may well be taking on, not a Tory and a LibDem, but a “coalition” candidate – probably a media female with no political previous.

Something tells me Jon Cruddas just wants to be left alone! The soft left needs to stop relying on him as some sort of messiah figure.

Jon Cruddas isn’t particularly “heavyweight” – he uses lots of long words that mean nothing, and hasn’t got a distinct political ideology – still better than Oona King, who uses lots of short words that mean nothing, and hasn’t got ANY ideology at all.

Read this and weep:

http://www.labourlist.org/this-is-about-bringing-communities-and-ideas-together-the-oona-k

Tell me that woman isn’t a policy-free zone. She is worse than Nicola Murray from The Thick Of It, and her “fourth sector pathfinders”

This is not a very compelling argument.

Fair enough if you think that Jon Cruddas would be a better Mayor than Ken (though I’d like to hear that argument).

But if you want the strongest candidate electorally, it has to be Ken.

Boris beat Ken 53-47, so Ken needs a 3% swing to win a rematch, if nothing else changes.

The main difference is that in 2012 the Tories will be in government, rather than Labour. Voters use midterm elections to signal discontent with whoever is in government, and Labour will do better in 2012 than in 2008 and the Tories worse. That’s even if the Tories are reasonably popular (c.f. 1977 vs 1981 local elections or 1995 vs 1999), let alone what is likely to happen after two years of savage cuts.

Demographic changes in London are also in Labour’s favour. And Ken’s campaign team ran Labour’s London campaign at the General Election, and beat the Tories across the city.

But what could go wrong for Labour is if the Lib Dems tacitly back the Tories. If Labour has a low profile candidate who voted for the Iraq war, and has to face both Tory and Lib Dem attacks, we could lose.

This makes the case for Ken even more compelling. Even if Lynne Featherstone wants to spend some of her millions on anti-Labour leaflets, people in her constituency will still vote for Ken overwhelmingly, ditto many Lib voters in south west London.

One other thing. What do Jon Cruddas and Ken actually disagree about?

Everything #8 said is true.

The main points being, Labour aren’t in government this time, and Ken has support from middle-class liberal voters in places like Hornsey & Wood Green that isn’t guaranteed to shift to Cruddas, (esp given his backing of the Iraq war), so why take the chance?

Plus let’s remember from the 80s, Ken is pretty good at mobilising London to oppose the national government.

Didnt Cruddas say, when ruling himself out for the Labour leadership race, that he didnt have the qualities required for leadership? I imagine these qualities are rather different to those of being London Mayor but there must be a lot of overlap – the latter requires much more responsibility, what with Labour being in opposition atm.

I dont think Cruddas can connect with ordinary, non-left people who would’ve voted for Ken in 2000 and 2004.

“The campaign starts here”! Cruddas must be over the moon that you are on the case, Sunny.

Will you be organising the “world’s first and biggest Cruddas flashmob”?

If so, will more than 10 people turn up?

12. Eastender

Sunny I am afraid that your analysis doesnt stack up.

The tories are already worried about losing whoever stands against Boris see

http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2010/05/alex-crowley-the-disappointing-results-in-london-from-may-6th-present-a-challenge-for-the-conservati.html

I can see there are arguments for and against Ken but making a broad statement “he cant win” isnt one of them. There is a case to say it is time to move on and that London needs a mayor that reflects its diversity. There is also a case that Ken remains very popular, has a constituency outside of the Labour party and knows more about running London than anyone else. He also has a long track record of running successful campaigns. London Labour members will need to consider this over the next few months.

As for the Jon Cruddas is brilliant argument – again not convinced. Labour did very well in East London, see the results from Tower Hamlets, Newham, Waltham Forest & Redbridge (there were 2 council seats won in wards that have always had tory councillors) so the result in Barking & Dagenham was hardly swimming against the tide. There was also huge help from Searchlight / Hope not Hate. MPs like Karen Buck & Andy Slaughter (amongst others) fought far more difficult campaigns to see off the tories. Jon didnt win the deputy leader contest, turned down the offer of housing minister sitting in the cabinet and will not stand for the leadership not necessarily the track record of a great campaigner. His is a thoughtful politician with some interesting things to say. However I am not convinced he would be the best Labour candidate for the mayorality.

I do agree however that there should be a decent field of candidates and that we need something more than an Oona v Ken contest.

13. twoseventwo

There were also rumblings about Ken standing as a Green if he didn’t get the Labour nod, weren’t there? I like Cruddas, and I certainly don’t want to see him in the Frank Dobson role.

Richard:
Why do you say Ken has no new ideas? As Mayor he presented an alternative…

What about since then? Those are old battles.

Any Labour candidate would have lost a mayoral election in May 2010 but after two years of Con-Dem public spending cuts how can you be so confident Ken couldn’t win?

No – Ken lost because the suburbs turned out to vote against Ken because they hated him that much. There’s no reason to assume they won’t turn out against Ken again.

This is especially since the anti-Boris people who were loudly saying Boris would be a nightmare will have nothing much to say now. Boris has gone out of the way to neutralise the negative image painted of him.

And the cuts won’t affect London much – they’ll be concentrated outside London.

And while I’m actually quite a fan of Cruddas in many ways but in what way is Cruddas not tainted by Blair?

It’s amazing how people are willing to overlook that Ken supported ID cards, that he supports the big banks and didn’t say anything bad about them while in power, and supported Ian Blair to the hilt when De Menzes got shot.

Second, Boris by all accounts had ambitions to succeed Cameron, and may not stand again.

Boris will almost certainly run again.

But if you want the strongest candidate electorally, it has to be Ken.

Boris beat Ken 53-47, so Ken needs a 3% swing to win a rematch, if nothing else changes.

What? The swing against Ken was huge… principally because Ken motivated a lot of people to vote against him. Do you think those ppl have just vanished? Rubbish they have.

Demographic changes in London are also in Labour’s favour.

How so? In fact the people who voted against Boris will largely be neutralised. What will your talking point be to motivate them to come out?

Eastender, that article you posted actually supports my view.

But do the recent results show the beginning of an unstoppable trend, or are they merely a one-off? It is hard to imagine turnout reaching the giddy heights that give the advantage to Labour, even if it is Boris v Ken round two. And Boris possesses three crucial advantages:

He reaches parts of the electorate other Tory politicians cannot. ‘White van man’, C2s, the white working class – whatever you want to call them, Boris charms them. This Eton and Oxford educated descendant of royalty is the working man’s politician of choice. His mix of straight talk, self-mockery and passion for all things English takes him beyond class differences. This is a potent electoral weapon with a key group of voters.

As we have already seen, Boris is not afraid to stick the boot into the new government at the slightest whisper of spending cuts. It may not comfort Cameron much, but you can be sure Boris will scream loudest when the axe man cometh.
Boris has balanced the need for spending cuts and fare increases (necessitated by Ken’s fiscal legacy) with retention of highly symbolic concessions, such as free travel for kids and the Freedom Pass. While he continues with this strategy, his Labour opponents cannot credibly label him as a first-born-sacrificing Tory.

That is actually spot on.

The only response in support of Ken is that the vote may swing towards him. But no one answers the points above

“How so? In fact the people who voted against Boris will largely be neutralised. What will your talking point be to motivate them to come out?”

You are seriously worried about the challenge of persuading people to go and vote to show their discontent with a government in a mid term election? A mid term election after two years of savage cuts to public services? The Tory cuts are absolutely going to hammer C2 voters.

Are you annoyed about losing your job/the Tories making you pay more tax/your child’s school having to sack teachers/crime in your area/massive bus fare increases/the state of the roads/the fact you can’t find somewhere affordable to live? Are you worried about Tory plans to take away your free bus pass/kick you out of your council house/sack even more police officers?

We’re talking about achieving a swing to Labour half as large as that which William Hague achieved against Tony Blair in 1999.

17. Lucio Buffone

Sorry Sunny, you’re on your own #teamken all the way

You are seriously worried about the challenge of persuading people to go and vote to show their discontent with a government in a mid term election?

Yes. Boris has actually opposed Cameron on many of the cuts stuff, as the ConHome writer points out. He opposed Cam on citizen Amnesty etc too. He can easily point to his maverick credentials and keep that vote.

And besides, those cuts will end up affecting ppl in the north more than London.

19. eastender

From the Telegraph someone else worrying about Ken becoming Mayor again largely because of the demographic change that you dismiss

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/edwest/100041322/todays-home-office-immigration-figures-will-further-ken-livingstones-2012-hopes/

As we seem to be into selective quotes two from the link in my previous comment

“However, these suburbs are notoriously flaky. After all, many of them have happily returned Tory councils and Labour MPs. They also returned Ken, twice. May 6th put these swing voters – vital for a Mayoral majority – back in the red corner.

And that matters because the next Mayoral election is the first chance for Labour to take a major scalp, and begin the climb back to power. It is also the first chance for voters to give Cameron a bloody nose, and it is a threat to which the Conservatives need to be alive.”

“Yet the reality remains that Boris has it all to do. City Hall, an institution created and bred to serve Labour-voting inner London, (despite the valiant efforts of Boris’s team) faces a struggle to spread the Conservative Mayoral message beyond Zone 3, with key areas now under Labour local authority control.

With more and more local newspapers being replaced by council-sponsored Pravdas, and general apathy of all things Mayoral, what chance a fair hearing in 2012 in these crucial areas? And how far will the Tory vote sink with a Cameron government forcing painful spending cuts on an electorate firmly wedded to the milk of the state?”

These are the words of a right wing strategist, who realises that the tories have a huge uphill struggle to hang onto the Mayorality. Clearly Boris is a formidable opponent but to claim that Ken can beat him is simply wrong. In many ways Ken would be the safe choice (how times have changed). Oona King lost to George Galloway, Jon Cruddas has yet to show he can win a “big” job. This is not dismiss them but they have a lot to prove to show they could do a better job than Ken.

It’s Ed West! The UKIP supporter. The guy couldn’t do strategy even if it hit him in the face.
He’s just pushing the standard UKIp crap that Labour deliberately encouraged more immigration for votes. The fact is, most of those immigrants don’t or can’t vote. I wish they did, but they don’t. Their kids will, but they don’t.

21. eastender

Sunny

The demographic change thing is true. If you look at east London over the past 20 years what were marginal seats are now safe Labour ones (eg Ilford South). The reason is because the population balance has changed, in broad terms white working class folk have been replaced by a much more diverse communities who tend to vote labour. This process has been very much at work in Barking & Dagenham but similar changes have been taking place all over East London. In its first phase this can lead to resentment at perceived newcomers but as the process goes on the new community balance changes long term political allegiances. If Nick Griffin had had any understanding of this he would not have stood in Barking.

This same process has been taking place in other parts of London too. Ken has very much understood this and has consistently tried to foster links with various communities one of the reasons he has been a success. Until the day comes when the link between the Labour party and various communities breaks down the party will benefit from the changing population balance

Cruddas isn’t going to run for mayor. He refused the housing position under Brown; he backed out of the leadership election. He does not want high office – his focus seems to be on promoting an organising model for local parties and re-enaging the leadership with ordinary members. Cruddas is not going to come to the rescue.

As it stands, there is Ken and there is Oona King. I think most Labour voters would be fairly decisive in supporting Ken again over an ex-Blairite MP who toed the line long enough to support the Iraq war before getting booted out of parliament.

Ken remains hugely popular amongst ordinary Labour voters. The hostility to him from the media – it seemed to reach a crescendo under Martin Bright’s hatchet-job of a documentary – would be hilarious if it weren’t coming dangerously close to making Livingstone seem like a liability rather than London Labour’s biggest asset.

23. Strategist

This is a dreadful mistake by Sunny.

Of course Ken can beat Boris. By 2012 the Tories will be at the absolute bottom of their popularity. Anybody will be able to beat Boris. But, for what it’s worth, Ken will be able to beat Boris bigger than Jon Cruddas ever would.

So it’s a matter of who’s the best person for the job. And again, Ken beats Jon Cruddas hands down – both on policy and nous.

“he [Cruddas] is to the left of the party, he is not tainted by Blair, he is an intellectual powerhouse and he could tear Boris to shreds in a debate. He has no negatives and no baggage. And he can relate to ordinary Londoners in a way that Boris can’t even hope to do.”

Really? Jon Cruddas and Anthony Charles Lynton Blair are both war criminals, in voting for that illegal war of aggression upon the Iraqi people in March 2003.

http://www.petitiononline.com/BWCF/petition.html

And where over 1.3 million innocent men, women and children have been slaughtered by that illegal war of aggression that Cruddas voted for.

25. Mike Killingworth

[21] Indeed, east London now votes on race, not class. I daresay Ilford South and Romford have very similar average household incomes but they vote in the opposite directions.

27. Mike Killingworth

[26] If there is any point still in the Labour Party (which, as regular readers will know, I doubt very much) it lies in doing the opposite of what the Murdoch press wants. Ken will be delighted by the Dirty Digger’s endorsement of Oona.

28. Nick Cohen is a Tory

Mike
What do you think should replace the labour party ?
How would it differ from what we have now
Surely, although I doubt you vote for them , a social democrat which believes in a role for the state in distributing wealth.
Would it be Tory/ lib dem coalition, the sequal
I agree but I feel all 3 parties should be replaced

29. Mike Killingworth

[28] A Green Party with an added solid working-class base would do nicely. It would not be tempted into the so-called “centre ground” which is actually suburban right-wingery. FWIW I would define “working-class” as anyone who has neither inherited wealth nor a university education.

30. Nick Cohen is a Tory

Sunny is totally right.
Cruddas or King are much better candidates.
They are new and hopefully are not tainted by the past
Although I hate to say this but whoever Labour puts up against Johnson will lose. He has all the aces.
1. The press, majority of bloggers and meja
2. The money. He is backed by the bankers and financiers
3. He is in power, which is always an advantage.
4. The right are now in ascendency
5. The left is divided

31. sunnyjim

Only Robin Wales can beat Ken and Boris

Ken was a great leader for London. His transport policies were visionary and like it or not, he is respected world-wide for the congestion charge. He is no angel but he has a genuine passion for London. He has the ability to attract support from Londoners who wouldn’t otherwise dream of voting Labour, and owing to his strong anti-racism, people who would generally just abstain out of cynicism for politicians generally.

The only time I ever saw Ken and Boris debate each other, Ken actually did wipe the floor with Boris. Ken was properly prepared, exceptionally well informed, calm, urbane and highly impressive. Boris blustered to a surprising degree. He hadn’t prepared thoroughly on the topic, and thought he could get by on humour, sound bites and ‘personality’. He was far less impressive than I expected for such an intelligent and well educated man. Boris has been an ineffective mayor, demonstrating knee-jerk Tory thinking on issues that shouldn’t even be partisan, like the environment. Boris has been completely upstaged by Dave Cameron as the likeable Tory leader, and noone will be better prepared to drive home his failures and weaknesses to the electorate than Ken.

Oona King is an unrealistic choice. She seems charming but she doesn’t have any kind of track record that suggests she’s ready for the job of London mayor. Most people have never heard of anything she has ever done as a politician. The harsh truth is that many voters would read Oona’s selection as tokenism. Better that she should stand again in future after establishing a strong reputation.

Jon Cruddas may seem a good choice to Labour Party insiders who regard him as ‘influential’ but to some of us he looks more like a rank opportunist who is not fit to shine John McDonnell’s boots, and a bit of an oaf. He’s faux left-wing with a dodgy voting record, lacks integrity, and he has no presentational skills whatsoever, so has limited ability to connect to non-party political voters. Cruddas reeks of personal ambition and is not even likeable. I think he would be a disastrous choice.

33. Mike Killingworth

[32] A good summary of the position. I would suggest that it would do Ken no harm to announce that he would serve one further term only. Oona could usefully stand for the GLA too.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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  2. Liberal Conspiracy

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  3. Nicholas Stewart

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  4. House Of Twits

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  5. Matthew Zarb-Cousin

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  6. Becky Luff

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  7. DaveHill

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  8. Nylon Cube

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  9. Eben Marks

    .@sunny_hundal is urging Jon Cruddas to run for Labour's @MayorOfLondon nomination: http://is.gd/crGDY, http://is.gd/crGFW.

  10. Kaveh Azarhoosh

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  11. Tweets that mention Jon Cruddas for Mayor of London: the campaign starts here | Liberal Conspiracy -- Topsy.com

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  12. sunny hundal

    I've started a campaign to get Jon Cruddas to run for Mayor of London: http://bit.ly/csO85c

  13. Kaveh Azarhoosh

    RT @sunny_hundal: I've started a campaign to get Jon Cruddas to run for Mayor of London: http://bit.ly/csO85c

  14. Tim Ireland

    RT @DaveHill: Sunny cries "Cruddas 4 Mayor" http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/05/27/jon-cruddas-for-mayor-of-london-the-campaign-starts-here/

  15. Peter Kenyon

    Labour Party rules allow nomination 1st; validation later – see Jon Cruddas for Mayor of London: He's still to declare http://bit.ly/dmyJR1





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