Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Do Labour actually want to win the Mayoral election?

We know that Ken Livingstone does. He's wanted it ever since May 3rd 2008 and has spent every day since then trying to win it.

But what about the rest of his party? Take this tale from Amol Rajan at the Independent:

"In November I sat next to one of the failed candidates for Labour's leadership at dinner. He was so utterly hateful of Ken and dismissive of his chances that I presumed he was exceptional in the party. But in fact senior Labour figures have been briefing against Ken for weeks. If they want control of London again, that should stop."

That is of course, assuming that they do want to win back control of London. And so far I'm far from convinced.

Ken and his team have been in opposition now for four years and are beginning to show that they want and know how to get back into power.

Nationally however, the party seem locked in a permanent state of opposition. Opposition that is, to themselves.

Hardly an hour goes by online without some new squabble, defection, or flame war between one or other of the barely distinguishable, but for some reason bitterly opposed, wings of the party.

And so pleased are they with this game of battleships that they have forgotten that there is a major and very much winnable election taking place right under their noses.

Their strategy is to play down the importance of the Mayoral elections so that if (and many of them assume when) Ken loses, they won't be tarnished too much by association.

This is the strategy of the loser.

Asked by LBC this week whether a Ken Livingstone win mattered to Ed Miliband, former minister Tessa Jowell replied that he was far more concerned with the general election in a few years time.

Jowell and her colleagues appear to have bought into the conventional wisdom that Boris is a dead cert to win.

He isn't. His achievements have been minimal and he is nowhere near as popular amongst Londoners as he is amongst lobby journalists in Westminster.

Luckily for Labour, Boris also appears to have bought into the conventional wisdom about himself and has spent the past six months obsessing about national rather than London issues.

And whilst Boris's head is stuck in the Thames Estuary sand, there is a real opportunity for Labour to move in and occupy the city he's deserted.

As the polls this week have shown, it is more than possible for Labour to do this. The only question is, do they really want it?

1 comment:

Appealing of Ealing said...

"Do Labour actually want to win the Mayoral election?"

If they did Ken Livingstone wouldn't be their candidate. And the way many Labourites feel about him, he might as well not be. I expect the feeling's mutual.

Don't underestimate the bitterness still widely felt from when Livingstone supported a total creep in Tower Hamlets against the Labour candidate.

That piece of treachery may yet prove to be his undoing. And deservedly so.