The Thick of It


Monday, March 14, 2011

Ken for mayor?

Ken Livingstone's weekend Politics Show interview gave a taste of the arguments and attacks that will become both more prominent and prevalent as we head towards next year's mayoral election in London.

The Tories will attack and will make it personal. Having been at the top of Labour's London politics for around the same number of years that I have been alive, Ken has a history of achievements and also (perceived) failures. His opponents will attack him and will be quick to highlight that he has already been rejected by London's voters before.

At the Labour mayoral hustings I went to Ken was forthright in stating his campaign would focus on opposing Tory cuts. This will get him so far in picking up votes from anti-Tories and perhaps some from those who deserted him in 2008. Will it be enough? I'm not sure, the media attacks will be strong and will reinforce negative sentiment against him.

Ken was a hate figure for many in 2008 and was tired. To win he needs to get his enthusiasm and energy back. Otherwise he may be too easy to cast off. He says he suffered at association with a then unpopular Labour government. This presents the interesting contrast with Boris Johnson having to fend off attacks of association with an increasingly unpopular Tory government. As Alastair Campbell tweeeted me: the election depends on that - together with Ken having enough energy to convince London he has new ideas.

Ken has a good record, much better than that of the incumbent. Ken has been accused of being a (former) Zone 1 mayor. This is unfair and Ken points out his initiative of neighbourhood policing that gave the same levels of police coverage to all parts of London. Buses got better in the suburbs, particularly night buses. This is something I noticed having grown up in zone 6. Fares were (then) as affordable as they have ever been in London and Ken will seek to do that again. I'd hope that was possible in the face of significant central government cuts though I'm not sure. Having built up a £1.2b of reserves he would use them to protect Londoners from the worst of government cuts.

Fair fares and no cuts to front-line policing will be his flagship policies. These will undoubtedly be popular. That is the easy part. The hard part is convincing a hostile media who have built up several decades of pent up opposition to Ken Livingstone .

1 comment:

Ola2bfit said...

I'm one of those people who has not rated Ken since he left the Labour Party to run for mayor. I didn't vote for him them but did once he became the official Labour party candidate. I was a very disappointed that he remains the official Labour Party candidate.. I thought he should give someone else a chance after all he had already lost to Boris. My opinion of Boris is not high as he has done nothing since he has been in office ( just taking credit for all the initatives started by Ken) unfortunately he has a good chance of retaining power in a re match against Ken.