Will Labour rue the day it brought Ken back in?

Will Labour rue the day it brought Ken back in?


      Would an independent loss to the Tories be a lot less damaging?

    Four and a half years ago Tony Blair went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that Labour would have a big result to shout about in what were to be the final national elections before the 2005 general election. He desperately wanted a victory for his party and the London Mayoral winner of four years earlier, Ken Livingstone, was brought back into the fold. In 2000, of course, he had stood and won as an independent humiliating the official party flag-bearer in the process.

    Gordon was totally opposed to this switch but Tony had his way and the then official party candidate was pushed aside. If this hadn’t have happened in 2004 Ken would surely have won a second term as an independent and Labour would not now be facing the prospect of a mega-loss on May 1st.

    So how is a defeat at City Hall going to affect Labour’s chances at the general election? The answer is quite a lot. It will reinforce Cameron’s position as Tory leader and the impression he tries to give as an election winner – something undermined by the appalling mess-ups at last year’s Ealing and Southall by election. It will also allow his team to argue that after the decade and a half in the wilderness the Tories can beat Labour.

      But more important than all of this is that Johnson is a very skilled journalist and is close to the Evening Standard’s, Andrew Gilligan, who he once employed. Just imagine what they’ll be able to do if they are on the inside? A mass of “revelations”, perhaps, on how the Mayor’s £11bn budget was used which the Tories will try to deploy to tarnish Labour’s reputation nationally.

    If Ken had not been readmitted to the party in 2004 then the consequences of a May 1st Tory victory would have been a lot less. That’s something else that Gord can blame his predecessor for.

    But the battle for City Hall is not over yet although the polls don’t look good for Ken. My guess is that the next four and a half weeks are going to be pretty rough for all parties.

    In the Mayoral betting Ken is now out to 1.88/1. General election markets are here.

    Mike Smithson

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