Ken: I will refuse to work with this govt


9:55 am - July 12th 2010

by Sunny Hundal    


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Ken Livingstone’s team yesterday said the candidate now offered a ‘clear choice’ on how to deal with Tory cuts in contrast to his opponent Oona King.

He said that if elected he would not cooperate with the government at all to make cuts to public services.

I am not running on a basis of cooperating with this government to make cuts in public services, I am running on the basis of defending them and making life of government difficult if they are not prepared to make resources available.

His comments came on the back of an interview on the BBC Politics show yesterday.

Transcript – BBC Politics Show – 11/07/2010

Tim Donovan – ‘You could be mounting a campaign as the Labour Mayor against coalition government cuts, which ones do you think are ok to go ahead, would need to happen, which ones?’

Oona King – ‘Well I think there are things you can cut around, you know, the services that are not front line services. So as an example if you look at some of the, in housing provision, there are some housing RSL’s that are giving money to,

Tim Donovan – ‘Landlords..’

Oona King –‘ Yeah, they are giving money to issues that are not actually bricks and mortar. Now I don’t want to see that funding, I don’t want to see that activity fall but I think there are new ways of actually funding it, for instance I am looking at new partnerships, I am looking at things like social impact bonds, I am looking at ways you could stop that coming from central government funding at the moment the local authority government, but actually provide it just the same..’

Tim Donovan – ‘Ken Livingstone, what is your approach to the cuts?’

Ken Livingstone – ‘Well I have to say I think this is much more like the 1980’s than the last 10 years of Labour government when it comes to public services. I am not running on a basis of what cuts I would make. I will be working with trade unions in London and Labour councils to defend services.’

‘By the time Oona or me is elected Boris will have made every easy cuts, all that will be left will be cutting into the things that we need, and I will fight those as I fought Thatcher.

Tim Donovan – ‘Will you fight them all?’

Ken Livingstone – ‘I will fight them, which public service would we wish to get rid of, would we wish to diminish healthcare, education, policing? Do we want to put up fares?’

Tim Donovan – ‘But this is unsustainable though?’

Ken Livingstone – ‘I am not running on a basis of cooperating with this government to make cuts in public services, I am running on the basis of defending them and making life of the government difficult if they are not prepared to make resources available.’

Tim Donovan – ‘In effect return to the conflict of the 1980s?’

Ken Livingstone – ‘I’m not, I’m running to represent Londoners, not the government. I would work to make certain the government realises they would lose seats on a grand scale if they make cuts. London puts £20bn more into the national economy than we get back.’

* * * * *

The following is the latest list of London Labour Mayoral hustings meetings Ken will be attending in July (supplied by his team).

Friday, July 9th, 7pm – Clapham
Wednesday, July 14th, 7pm – Enfield
Thursday, July 15th, 7pm – Eltham
Wednesday, July 21st, 7pm – East Ham
Friday, July 23rd, 7pm – Croydon
Monday, July 26th, 7pm – Ealing
Friday, July 30th, 7pm – Tower Hamlets

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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


I never thought in a million years I’d say this but Oona seems the more reasonable and electable candidate than Ken, based on their answers to these questions about working with the government. Do we really want to elect a Mayor who will just use their position to make silly statements against the democratically elected government of the United Kingdom? Sounds pointless.

Ken is dead.

This is exactly why Labour would be daft to select Oona over Ken (and we won’t). Especially in an age where the media is more London-centric than the 80s, we need someone who knows how to create a focal point of resistance to the cuts in London & help create a narrative of hapless and brutal government. Ken’s experience in the 80s makes him an ideal candidate. I can’t see why anyone other than the Progress types would want anyone different.

we need someone who knows how to create a focal point of resistance

<— back to the 1980s, then, Tim? That worked out real well last time.

Anyone heard of Liverpool Labour, Militant, and Kinnock’s conference speech in 1985? Resistance is a silly concept in modern British parliamentary politics. Grow up or f off back to university.

#3 Back to the 80s is a very simplistic reading which ignores the benefits of having a concentrated alternative based in London. It also ignores the complex history of what actually happened in the 80s (let’s not forget Thatcher was unpopular and Foot doing very well before the Falklands invasion). I’m not going to elaborate further because the reductionism of your comment doesn’t merit it.

Resistance can work. It worked against the Poll Tax. We shouldn’t all be submissive to the government of the day if one thinks they are wrong.

The difference between Oona and Ken couldn’t be more pronounced.

On the one hand we have a canny old street fighter. Hardly a plaster saint, but charismatic and with an enviable record of principle and success.

On the other hand we have a polished machine politician who could be from any party. Lacking any bothersome principles she’s shown herself able and willing to accept anything from tory cuts to the attack on Iraq.

An easy choice, I’d say.

Any guesses about what this means when it is translated into English from gibberish?

‘Yeah, they are giving money to issues that are not actually bricks and mortar. Now I don’t want to see that funding, I don’t want to see that activity fall but I think there are new ways of actually funding it, for instance I am looking at new partnerships, I am looking at things like social impact bonds, I am looking at ways you could stop that coming from central government funding at the moment the local authority government, but actually provide it just the same..’

9. Flowerpower

@ 8

Pretty opaque, isn’t it? My best guess is that she’s talking about cutting funding for stuff like anti-social behaviour, but doesn’t want to say so for fear of frightening the tenantry.

10. finallysomecents

My guess is that Londners will be clamouring for someone who implements policies that soften the blows of the coalition government and who opposes things that make matters worse, like further cuts and privasations such as Royal Mail.
That is Ken.

He’s also more electable than Oona.

Oona had a 26.2% swing against her in 2005 when Labour was suffering an 8.5%swing aganst. In 2008, Labour got 27.6% in the London Assembly elections whereas Ken got 36.4% first preference votes.

The same was true in 2004, and of course in 2000. Ken is consitently more popular than Labour is, Oona less popular.

I’m with tim f on this one – it’s rather bizarre that Ooina is completely misreading grassroots Labour mood.

For me the telling detail is when Oona King casually uses the jargon term “RSLs” and Tim Donovan has to step in to translate for the benefit of any normal people that might be listening.

“My guess is that Londners will be clamouring for someone who implements policies that soften the blows of the coalition government and who opposes things that make matters worse, like further cuts and privasations such as Royal Mail.
That is Ken.”

Unless Boris can wangle a softer line from the Coalition on cuts, which is unlikely for a couple of reasons:

1) Cameron won’t want to help a future leadership rival who’s already the darling of the Telegraph internal opposition to his rule
2) The Lib Dems aren’t much interested in London, there’s no powerbase here and the local elections are four years away and the General five. Norman Baker’s comments on transport subsidy favouring London refers
3) Boris isn’t actually much good at fighting for things. Hint: when he says he’s ‘determined’ to do something it means he won’t actually do it, he’d like someone else to.
4) The brunt of Civil Service cuts will inevitably hit London and Boris is as likely to join the PCS on the picket line as I am to become Pope. About the only thing I got out of him at our first meeting was that he doesn’t like dealing with Whitehall.

I’d say given that a strategy of resistance beats a strategy of bending over.

@finallysomecents

I think that’s a bit of a misreading of the data. The circumstances of the Tower Hamlets constituency election in 2005 were completely unique, which I’m sure I don’t need to tell anybody. Its also worth noting that 42.48% of Londoners backed Boris as their first choice, but only 34.05% in the list vote. The fact is that the two electoral systems in use advantage a certain type of electoral behaviour. Using the horrendous SV electoral system used for electing the Mayor, it is best to vote for one of the major two parties, and as the system is more personality based weak third party candidates (hello, Brian Paddick). The only real way to see who is more electable is to poll Londoners on each of them vs. Boris, as they do in the US during primary elections, though as primaries get far more exposure King has low visibility, which would skew the results.

My big fear with the Mayoral election is that King will win the nomination and then Ken will run as an Independent AGAIN, possibly with the backing of the Green Party and some other left-wing groups, in so doing splitting the left-wing vote. There is not a man alive, it seems, who can keep Ken Livingstone from attempting to be Mayor of London. One of the consequences of the SV system is it can suffer big problems in cases of a three horse race, the likely beneficiary of which would be Boris Johnson.

“My big fear with the Mayoral election is that King will win the nomination and then Ken will run as an Independent AGAIN, possibly with the backing of the Green Party and some other left-wing groups, in so doing splitting the left-wing vote.”

I don’t think there’s any danger of a warmongering Blairite like Oona King ‘splitting the left wing vote’ !

16. Chaise Guevara

“I don’t think there’s any danger of a warmongering Blairite like Oona King ‘splitting the left wing vote’ !”

Interesting point. Maybe Oona will pick up the “I don’t like the Tories but I hate Ken more” vote, which seems to be what got Boris into power in the first place.

17. Richard P

If there end up being three credible candidates, a lot will depend on the second preference votes cast by those who supported whichever of the three comes last (or more accurately, whichever comes last after the minor parties have been eliminated and their supporters’ second preferences distributed).

Of course, Supplementary Vote doesn’t work well with more than two credible candidates, because voters only get two votes, so anyone who wanted to cast their first-preference vote for a Green (for instance) would not be able to cast a second pref for Ken and a third for Oona – that would be impossible, due to the ludicrous decision to use the iniquitous SV system rather than AV.

This is all rather hypothetical, though.

@11 “I’m with tim f on this one”

Is that because I used the word ‘narrative’? ;p

“help create a narrative of hapless and brutal government”

When did people start using this bullshit postmodernist term “narrative”. It is ludicrous. Either the government is in fact “hapless and brutal” or it isn’t — narratives are for stories not reality.

“I am not running on a basis of cooperating with this government to make cuts in public services, I am running on the basis of defending them and making life of the government difficult if they are not prepared to make resources available.’

This is stupid demagoguery. When the out going government leaves a note saying “the money is all gone”, to argue that the role of London Mayor is to fight for money that longer exists is idiotic.

“London puts £20bn more into the national economy than we get back.’”

Dangerous ground — in arguing that prosperous regions (like London) get a raw deal from the central government he is rehashing old Tory arguments that the South shouldn’t subsidise the North, Scotland and Wales. Clearly “Red” Ken doesn’t even bother pretending to be a socialist anymore.

For me the telling detail is when Oona King casually uses the jargon term “RSLs”

Personally, I think drinking clubs for old Aussie soldiers and their mates are a key issue in London politics.

” London puts £20bn more into the national economy than we get back.’”

What the hell does that mean? I’m going to protect london and sod everyone else. London is one of the richest parts of the country, that’s why they put in more money than they get back. Has Ken just totally rejected the principle of redistribution here, or is he just engaging in provincial nimbyist populism?

What does Ken think he’s doing? Does he think he lost last time because he didn’t sound enough like a petulant 1980’s throwback. The electorate labour lost last time, the outer london boroughs, will never vote for someone whose manifesto is unabridged war with the government, it makes Ken look ridiculous.

23. Chaise Guevara

“Has Ken just totally rejected the principle of redistribution here, or is he just engaging in provincial nimbyist populism?”

The second one.

#19

The word narrative may be over-used, but in this case I was talking about how we get media to tell one particular story about what’s going on rather than another story, so I think its use was fair.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Ken: I will refuse to work with this government http://bit.ly/bRNWH1

  2. yorkierosie

    RT @libcon: Ken: I will refuse to work with this government http://bit.ly/bRNWH1

  3. sunny hundal

    I'm rather surprised Oona King is misreading Labour grassroots opinion on Tory cuts: http://bit.ly/bRNWH1

  4. Ben Folley

    RT @sunny_hundal: I'm rather surprised Oona King is misreading Labour grassroots opinion on Tory cuts: http://bit.ly/bRNWH1

  5. Tom Copley

    RT @sunny_hundal: I'm rather surprised Oona King is misreading Labour grassroots opinion on Tory cuts: http://bit.ly/bRNWH1

  6. Ken vs. Oona – anything new? « tom's blog

    […] the 1980s, where he battled with Thatcher from the GLC. He wants to fight, fight, fight every cut (transcript here). But as King pointed out, once the Mayor gets a cut-down grant she/he can’t do very much […]





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