Why does Ken Livingstone bother with Labour?

This is the party that didn't just expel him, it vilified him with absurd abuse

Share
Related Topics

During the last election for the mayor of London the Labour Party had a wonderfully surreal attitude towards Ken Livingstone, which was "Why are you all voting for him, you idiots, can't you see he's unelectable?"

During the last election for the mayor of London the Labour Party had a wonderfully surreal attitude towards Ken Livingstone, which was "Why are you all voting for him, you idiots, can't you see he's unelectable?"

For years Tony Blair declared that Livingstone's association with Labour cost them thousands of votes. So Livingstone left Labour and got four times as many votes as the Labour candidate. Now he seems likely to win again, except that, as he's back in the Labour Party, Blair's association with him is costing Livingstone thousands of votes.

Even the Tories have worked this out, which is why their candidate Steven Norris has declared himself against the war in Iraq, and refers to Livingstone as "Blair's mayor". In effect, this means the Tories are complaining about Livingstone from the left. Norris will turn up to Livingstone meetings wearing a bright baggy woollen jumper and rings through his eyebrows, yelling: "Yeah like you big up the people but you hang out with Blair, you're down with the corporate shit, man."

It's an interesting tactic, to campaign on principles opposite to those your party was set up for. If a majority of the country starts supporting the European Union, maybe the UK Independence Party will say: "If there's one thing we've never supported it's UK independence."

Norris is more truly Conservative when he proposes to abolish the congestion charge, as opponents of this charge base their opposition on arguments such as: "He's put all that money into extra buses that most of the time are half-empty." Perhaps they think public transport should be run by those lads in charge of the dodgems at a fairground. You get in but it doesn't move off until there are enough people for it to be worthwhile switching the power on.

Norris's claims to be the radical candidate are also slightly compromised by the fact he's on the board of Jarvis, the despised company in charge of the maintenance for the Underground. Maybe it's a rule in this election that every candidate has to join a discredited organisation, and this week Simon Hughes will announce he's been signed to play in goal for Leeds United.

Even the Liberal Democrat claim to be the anti-war party is misleading, as they adopted the peculiar philosophical position of being anti-war until there was a war. The justification for this was that once the war had begun, it wouldn't be fair on our soldiers to oppose the war as they couldn't do their job without public backing. But apart from anything else is this right? If you're driving a tank and you're about to send off a metal-shredding missile, do you start twitching, and muttering "I'm not sure I can because there was this letter in The Independent"? And Jenny Tongue was sacked from the Liberal front bench for saying she could understand the mentality that led to suicide bombing. So presumably, the correct Liberal response to any question on the Middle East should be: "I don't understand what's going on. It's a bloody powder-keg, I know that much."

Jenny Tongue was also told her statement was a "green light to terrorists". What a quaint idea, that Hamas suicide bombers are sat in a basement, uncertain what strategy to follow, listening to a short-wave radio. Then suddenly one jumps up and cries, "An obscure Liberal Democrat MP understands us - strap me up with explosives baby."

How do New Labour politicians explain how there can be an election in which every major candidate has to try and make themselves seem more fervently anti-war than the rest? The anti-war Respect coalition may appear to have made only a limited impact, but it seems every other party has eagerly copied its platform. For a laugh, Respect should announce it plans to bring back bear-baiting, and see if all the other parties go "perhaps they're on to something," and copy that as well.

Certainly, Labour's only hope to win the vote for mayor was by re-admitting the anti-war Livingstone, and allowing him to appear distant from Blair. If he wins, Blair may have to follow a similar tactic. At the general election he'll say: "You may think Ken Livingstone doesn't like me but he only has to meet me a couple of times a week. I spend all day with me so imagine how sick I make me. To give Blair a bloody nose vote Blair."

So why has Livingstone rejoined Labour? This is the party that didn't just expel him, it vilified him with absurd abuse, such as the claim that his plans for buses would cost every Londoner £1,200. Perhaps Blair was getting his information from the same source that told him about the weapons of mass destruction. Somewhere was a report that, within 45 minutes of getting elected, Livingstone would gold-plate a fleet of 133s to Streatham garage.

But as well as pride, why rejoin a party that is becoming more disliked each day, and which he opposes on every fundamental issue. It would be like joining the National Association of Paedophiles and announcing: "But don't worry, I can't stand paedophiles."

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Women are working in some of the lowest-paid sectors such as cleaning, catering and caring  

Women's wages have gone backwards. Labour would give women the pay they deserve

Gloria de Piero
 

Taking on Ukip requires a delicate balancing act for both main parties

Andrew Grice
Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?