05 May 2008

Still Gutted About Ken.

Some have said Ken ran a bad campaign and it was this that finally done for him. Forget that the Evening Standard had...
500 billboard headlines a day for six months calling him a crook, forget that Labour were 20 points behind in the opinion polls.

Personally I don't think Ken could have done much more faced with those sorts of odds and remember he did manage to increase his vote by 200,000 while Labour was getting massacred elsewhere.

Maybe Ken could have been more aggressive in pointing out Boris's flaws, maybe he could have defended himself better against the corruption smears. Though this is arguable. I really think Ken worked extremely hard and probably got about the best result possible in the circumstances.

Some have suggested Ken could have won as an independent, but Ken never wanted to leave the Labour party, rejoined as soon as he could and I think he was right to fight as the Labour candidate - I doubt Ken could have won Crossrail or the new powers over housing as an indepenedent. Ken has principles and in the long run Ken will be remembered for them. Gordon's weather-vane triangulated approach is proving a disaster. People want politicians to lead them and persuade them what is right, not be spineless and do just what they think is popular.

Ken had the better policies and a successful and highly competent record and I reckon if the election were re-run today, Londoners would realise their mistake and Ken would win. In fact, so worried are the Tories of a Ken come-back they are once again calling for a change in the law to prevent him running again. With Cameron as PM they no doubt will bring in this anti-democratic measure - a law that in the US saddled us with George W Bush.

Like George Bush before him, Boris knows his unremittingly negative campaign has left many scars on the electorate and he has now said he wants unity. But Boris is a liar - judge him on his actions not his words (or the words of a London media desperate to see the Tories in power). Boris has already shown what he stands for by shutting out ordinary party plebs from his celebraton party. From now on it is back to the Tory 'us and them' politics of the 1980s. Boris is surrounded by minders and I doubt he will speak to an ordinary Londoner ever again. Everything he does will be carefully spun by a Daily Mail London media desperate for the Metro-tube contract renewal.

The Western extension of the congestion charge will be scrapped, pedestrians will get less time to cross the road, Tory London boroughs will continue to veto house building and rather than a Labour mayor fighting this, Boris will succumb. Porshe have already heaved a sigh of relief at Boris's election and selfish 4x4 drivers will continue to endanger Londoners lives. And this is just the start - the Tories will look for a chance to erode the free travel they despise and expect police, bus and tube services to get less investment, especially if Boris does not u-turn on his routemaster plans. Scrapping bendy-buses will waste 100s of millions alone.

So the Tories are winning elections by just pointing out Labour faults - it is an easy tactic and it may carry them to power. But people should remember that though they might want change - do they really want the Tory change for the worse? If you elect people who don't say what their policies are, don't be surprised if when elected, their policies are not what you wanted at all - in fact they are worse.


  1. There are a few problems with this analysis.

    Biggest is London wanted shot of corrupt Ken and his gang.

    That's democracy but you don't seem to like it.

    Of course not that is the socialist way. People cannot be trusted.

  2. While there are many factors at play I do think Ken could have run a better campaign. I've seen much of it whilst in London campaigning for the Greens.

    I thought much of his printed material was weak and pulled its punches. The design was bland and on election day I didn't see a single Labour activist - whether knocking up, telling or leafleting.

    But then if Labour can't find the activists to do those jobs, because they've lost faith, perhaps that's the answer.

  3. Clearly you have the same concept of democracy as Mugabe, who also is a Marxist/Socialist.

    The more people like you spout this unbalanced idiotic twaddle the more likely the Tories will get back in power.

    So keep up the good work.

  4. Neil, in your opinion, was there any hint of corruption whilst Ken was in charge?

    What's wrong with the Tories merely pointing out Labour's faults!?! I don't recall you or the Labour party ever overlooking faults in the Tory party when standing for election!

    "End Tory sleaze" has always been the mantra!

  5. Anon: I won't be lectured by Tories on what democracy is or isn't. Anyone who thinks getting 60% of the seats on 40% of the vote is fair, is not a democrat. Most Tories think that our corrupt electoral system, corrupt way of financing parties and our corrupt press is ok, because it delivers right-wing government (whether under the Labour or Tory banner) but it is not ok. It is you lot who have more in common with Mugabe - not people like me who want fair votes, fair funding and a truly free press.

  6. Snafu: Imagine if 500 ES billboards had concentrated their fire on Boris's 'beating up journalists' story for six months and had no scrutiny of Ken at all. Would you then think it fair. This will give you some idea of how I am feeling.

    Was Ken corrupt? In no way whatsoever is Ken corrupt - it is an absurd accusation. Even Boris now admits that Ken has been a great public servant with some remarkable achievements - he is probably the most honest politician we have ever had. He was hard working, principled, vastly knowledgeable, competent and devoted his efforts to improving all Londoners lives. Those is zone 5 and 6 who have voted Boris will get a nasty shock. Ken's improvements to bus services and now London overground have helped them the most, and even those who drive into London have been helped - because gridlock would help no-one.

    Ken employed people who overwhelmingly got the job done - the LDA helped thousands of organisations - only a small fraction have gone wrong - this is unavoidable in any large organisation. Nobody thinks Ken was profiting from anything he did - he lives a modest life and his life was about improving London - nobody would have worked as hard as Ken - especially not Tories on the GLA earning £50k and treating it as a part-time distraction. Look at the corrupt Brian Coleman who has spent £50k on taxis as leader pf the Tories - he is now going to be one of Boris's key advisers. The ES lies have helped turn our democracy into a stinking rotten corpse. The Daily Mail Group will now get their metro-contract renewal from a grateful Boris.

  7. Jason: It is sad that there were few Labour activists that you saw. There were hundreds on election day but hundreds is not many when the electorate is over 5m.

  8. Anon

    Like Neil I'm a bit 'confused' by your stance here and in other comments. You appear simply not to be able to get to grip with Neil's argument that there might, just might, be an imbalance of resources and power in the press, and this might, just might, be bad for the democracy that you hold so highly.

    To pick up the Mugabe analogy, you seem indirectly to be suggesting that it's really perfectly valid for Mugabe to have a monopoly on the press in Zimbabwe, because in the end people will get to use their vote as they see fit (note I am not suggesting you condone state violence). This seems to ignore even a basic concept of advertising/marketing, which is that, through a constant stream of messages, (accompanied by violence or not) alternatives become filtered out by the voter/purchaser.

    I accept that there is a pluralist democratic argument that, if the press in one sided, the challenge is not to complain about it but to create alternatives - paper based or other - and that this is a reasonable option to pursue in a country with established democratic norms (whatever their failings). While I'm far too Marxism-influenced to accept that argument, I do at least take it seriously. So does Neil, by blogging.

    Neil is putting forward an intellectually valid position. You may not agree with it - that's you're fundamental right - but please do try to take on board what he's saying before you rant on. Otherwise it's not the debate you may be seeking in order to influence others' views, just a loud argument in which people quickly lose interest.


  9. Don't understand your point, Anon. Newspaper support can make a difference. Look at how cut up the Tories were at losing the Sun's support in the mid 90s. And look at how bitterly the Tories complained about the easy ride that the media gave Labour in its first few years. If the Standard's highly partisan approach to this election is irrelevant then what were the Tories complaining about?