Thursday, 5 March 2009

Andrew Gilligan waves his Sword of Truth about

Following Andrew Gilligan's non-story about Alan Sugar's non-candidacy, I went along to Labour's 'Winning Back London' event to see what it was all about.

Half-expecting to see 'Kick Ken/Sign-up Sugar' banners on the walls, what I actually saw was an earnest, if uneventful discussion about where Labour went wrong last May and what it needs to do in 2012.

About 20 minutes in, the back door opened and in wafted the Gilligan himself, complete with trademark smirk and blazer.

Here's his oh-so balanced write-up of proceedings:

"Hence, over the past couple of weeks, the launch of a highly significant development in London Labour politics - an embryonic "Stop Ken" campaign. Last night, in a Westminster committee room, several of the key members gathered. Mr Livingstone's own campaign manager, Tessa Jowell, said: "When the people of London chose who to vote for, they did so for a reason. It is us, not the voters, who need to change."

"Steve Reed, Labour leader of Lambeth council, said: "If we'd concentrated on crime [during the campaign] instead of climate change, talked about the things that really matter to voters, we could and should have a Labour mayor of London now." Nick Raynsford, MP for Greenwich, wasn't there last night but also believes Livingstone's defeat was "self-inflicted". Ken's supporters often like to see any attack on him as an attack on the Labour Party itself, but these people are not leader-writers for the Daily Mail. They are Labour."

Now it probably won't surprise you to hear that Gilligan managed to omit all of the speakers (including Jowell) who said that nobody could have bucked the national trend any more than Ken.

Nor will it surprise you to hear that this supposed Stop Ken campaign meeting actually included Livingstone's former Deputy Mayor and Deputy Chief of Staff (clue: it wasn't a Stop Ken campaign meeting.)

And of course absolutely nobody will be surprised to learn that Gilligan was then given license to write yet another meandering comment piece about Ken Livingstone.

But then there has long been some puzzlement in media circles about that.

Image by Beau Bo D'or


Tony said...

Didn't Gilligan comment here once that you're contributing to his bonus by mentioning him? If that's true then Ken Livingstone must owe Gilligan thousands.

AdamB said...

As it turned out that claim was complete bollocks as was later confirmed by the ES marketing team, but yes he's certainly giving Livingstone a lot of publicity.

barry rochford said...

As the meeting appears to have been organised by Progress, it presumably doesn't represent by any means Progressive London, so Gilligan was clearly fishing for any anti-ken soundings.
Seems that he didn't hear what he was hoping for, so he wrote his usual accurate account of the event.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it wasn't a "Stop Ken" meeting, but there are undoubtedly people in the Labour Party who do want a "Stop Ken" movement. The issue is this: Ken Livingstone says and does things that are "controversial", such as the congestion charge or opposing the invasion of Iraq or talking about climate change. There is always therefore a fuss in the media about Ken, and this spooks people like Jowell and Read, whose instinct seems to be to run away from these controversial issues. However the people who kick up a fuss about Ken are not necessarily Labour voters, and there are considerable numbers of voters who seem to vote for Ken because he isn't afraid of these issues. They don't see anything wrong in issues being controversies: they are uncomfortable issues that most politicians have difficulty in dealing with. Some people in the Labour Party may want a "safer" candidate but there's no guarantee that this will improve the chances of there being a Labour mayor after 2012.


AdamB said...

There were people there who obviously do want to stop Ken running in 2012 and there was some interesting discussions about where his campaign went wrong but it wasn't the covert Stop Ken meeting that Gilligan was so desperate to portray it as.

Most interesting for me was the analysis from Julia Clark of Ipsos Mori who pointed out that the two most important issues for people in the run-up to the election were crime yes, but also housing supply and affordability. Where was the debate and campaigning on that? It barely got a mention from either side and was a big opportunity missed by all parties.

Also interesting was her analysis on the perception gap between what Ken actually did for the suburbs (better transport/ more police etc) and their steadily growing disillusionment with him over the two terms. Also there was some very interesting discussion about the doughnut effect from Jowell who commented about how passionately her inner-city constituents were in favour of Ken but how passionately many in the suburbs were against him.

This was all interesting stuff, but as usual the Standard's London expert just picked out two quotes and used it as yet another tired opportunity to bash Ken. Lazy stuff.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting what you report Jowell as saying about the doughnut effect, because what she was reported as saying in the Guardian a few days ago would suggest a less sophisticated "stop Ken and all will be OK" analysis.


Don't Call Me Dave said...

As a Conservative I would be very pleased if Ken was the Labour candidate in 2012. I don’t believe his defeat was simply due to the national swing against Labour. I think the majority of the public were simply fed up with him. All politicians have a shelf life and he had exceeded his sell-by date.

AdamB said...

Guano- Well nuance doesn't sell many papers I guess.

I think it's pretty clear that she probably doesn't want Ken to stand again, but she has worked with the man for a few years so she can probably see the other side of the coin as well.

There was a contingent there (Reed being the obvious one) who appeared to believe that if Ken had just concentrated more on crime then everything would have been okay for Labour. Like you, I think it's much more complicated than that and for every vote he lost on that issue, he gained from others on other issues.

The one thing that didn't get talked about much was Boris. Whoever stands for Labour it's him they will have to beat, and the Assembly aside, they have given him something of a free ride this year.

Anonymous said...

There is no realistic Labour rival to Ken Livingstone, who after all polled 13% higher than Labour nationally. He attracts a following that no one else has.

It wasn't enough in May 08 but that's because even he couldn't overcome the unpopularity of Labour - an unpopularity that was down to persistently right-wing policies. If Labour took a leaf out of Ken's book and took a left turn they could actually recover in time for the general election.

Instead they seem obsessed with the same old right-wing nonsense that got them into this mess.


Anonymous said...

Hey man - you should have introduced yourself. Didn't see anyone with a paper mask over their face. Could you point out where I said it was a "stop Ken campaign meeting?" What I actually said was that it was a meeting at which "several of the key members" of the stop Ken campaign were present. Not the same thing, is it?

And I actually did acknowledge, in the piece, though not (inevitably) in the bits you quoted, that Ken outpolled Labour. But he did lose, you know. It's time to come to terms with that - as the Labour Party rapidly is.


Anonymous said...

Andrew - Could I make a polite request - perhaps you could try being a reporter rather than an increasingly tedious political campaigner - You may be campaigning against someone rather than for someone but actually that amounts to much the same thing - Attempting to direct political opinion by the continued repetition of your own readily transparent views, highly selective quotes and avoidance of any mention of anyone or anything that gives evidence to disagree or disprove your own stance - Talk about abuse of your position - It hardly gives you professional credibility does it?

And as for carrying on your petty vendettas via the diary/ gossip columns!!! Good god man do get a grip - Anyone would think you were self possessed or, whisper it, a vindictive bully.

Please, please understand that just because you don't like, or disagree with someody it doesn't make them a legitimate target for your repeatedly flawed reporting style - At times you write impressively and with passion - It's just that all too often you go and spoil it by not listening to the little voice in your head that I hope is saying "Leave it Andrew - It's Just Not Worth It!" - Or maybe it's not in your head - maybe it's your partner - again!

Continue down this path and, all too soon, you'll make yet another enormous cock-up - Have you really learnt so very little from your previous errors of judgment?

Oh and btw - Anonymous? Yes indeedy - If you'd like to know why just think about how you choose to treat those who disagree publicly with you - Anonymous as in writing something about somebody without putting my name to it - Bit like Londoners Diary - Funny that!


Absolutely definitely not who your inner voice will be trying to convince you it is

AdamB said...

Come on Andrew let's get real shall we? You wrote:

"Hence, over the past couple of weeks, the launch of a highly significant development in London Labour politics - an embryonic "Stop Ken" campaign. Last night, in a Westminster committee room, several of the key members gathered."

What's the impression you're trying to give there? Any ideas? Or how about this from your Sugar story:

"In a move seen as a calculated attempt to raise Sir Alan's profile in the run-up to the selection of Labour's mayoral candidate, he spoke via video link at a major fundraising rally for the London party at Canary Wharf last night."

Except he didn't did he Andrew? There was a film about London Labour which included a short clip of Sugar talking about Gordon Brown. Not quite the same thing really is it? Guess the truth didn't fit with your story.

You see my problem with your journalism Andrew is that you like to fit the facts around the story and not the story around the facts. It's got you into trouble before and you're still at it.

Oh and there's no mask over my identity Andrew. You can see my picture here and I put my own name to all of my work. You on the other hand, hide behind anonymity in order to attack your critics and to defend your own work. It's cowardly and it suggests that you're not confident in the strength of your own arguments.

Again, if you were confident, you wouldn't feel the need to stretch the truth -as you do- in almost every article that you write.

Anonymous said...

As I wasn't at the "Winning back London" meeting I cannot judge whether Andrew or Adam give a better description of what happened. I found Andrew's description rather frightening: it sounded like an echo chamber with everyone shouting "Stop Ken" at each other, leading to a high level of group-think and mutually assured delusion. Knowing "Progress", and knowing something about some of the individuals who were there, it wouldn't have surprised me. However Adam's description did suggest that there was some deeper thinking, and it is encouraging to hear that Tessa Jowell realises that there are significant numbers of people who like Livingstone, and/or his policies.

Livingstone talking about climate change may put some people off, but some people may be positive because it shows that he is willing to take on long-term issues (and he is able to talk quite well on the subject and its implications for London). People may mention crime as their number one priority, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they will respond positively to a politician coming to the door and talking about it: they rarely have any solutions and people are cynical about politicians who say what they think people want to hear. So it is quite possible that a different candidate would pick up some votes somewhere and lose them somewhere else. It's not quite as simple as the narrative Andrew is trying to get running.


AdamB said...

It's an interesting point. There seemed to be very little enthusiasm in the room for the Livingstone Climate change agenda (Gavron aside). Funnily enough though, I thought that at last night's PQT, Boris got the hardest time from the audience during the Environment section. I'm not sure that the anti-congestion charge anti-LEZ agenda is as populist as Boris might think.

Jonathan said...

"Hey man"? Is that how he addresses people? How bizarre.

Jonathan said...

The anti-congestion charge anti-LEZ agenda is popular with business - that seems to be the lobby Boris is trying to please. He wants the LDA to be more "business-friendly", has produced an economic recovery plan and frequently publicises "new" (i.e. old but rejigged) business support schemes like London MAS. "Red Boris" wants businesses on his side - but he's out of step with them on Heathrow and many others think he's not great at promoting London (