I’ve only written once about the Tower Hamlets Mayoral contest and that after Ken Livingstone, Labour’s 2012 candidate for Mayor of London, allowed himself to be filmed walking about with Lutfur Rahman, an independent contender who was dropped as Labour’s own candidate after “serious allegations” were made about him.
If you want detailed insight into the Tower Hamlets Mayoral contest I suggest reading Dave Hill and Andrew Gilligan’s respective blogs which have covered the race in very close detail, but I did want to comment on one aspect of it: the myth of ‘the Ken Livingstone effect’.
Last night Rahman won 51.76% on a paltry turnout of 25.6% – a victory some of his critics seek to lay solely at the feet of Livingstone.
But Ken’s detractors are guilty of illogic and double standards, during Labour’s Mayor of London selection many of them claimed his appeal was waning and he’d lack the pulling power to ‘win back’ CIty Hall. This line of attack is now being conveniently set aside as they seek to blame the entirety of the Tower Hamlets loss on him.
Let’s all be honest, brand Ken doesn’t have the potency to hand anyone 51% of the vote, if it did he’d still be Mayor of London.
After news of Livingstone’s visit broke earlier this week there were calls, notably in some cases from people who backed his opponent, for Livingstone to be expelled from Labour for breaking the rules on endorsing a rival candidate. Around the web this morning people are turning up the volume of these calls.
I can’t see it happening.
Even if Labour could muster the balls to expel Livingstone for the second time in a decade, it’d be a self-defeating move which would ensure Boris Johnson stayed in City Hall after 2012.
As it happens my hunch is that’ll be the eventual outcome anyway, Livingstone is contesting the fourth of four Mayoral elections and will struggle to look fresh and exciting to an electorate not guaranteed to punish Johnson for the government’s spending cuts.
But expelling Livingstone ahead of the contest would ensure two things; that he’d run as an independent and that both he and the official Labour candidate would lose.
Unlike in 2000, there’s no widespread anti-Blair anger for Livingstone to capitalise on while campaigning as an independent and the recent selection process proved the paucity of candidates Labour have to offer the capital.
Labour members annoyed with Livingstone are going to have reconcile themselves to the fact that the chances of him going anywhere are pretty slim.
And in answer to the much asked question ‘why did Ken do it?’ – he knew he’d most likely get away with it and the row helpfully freshens up the ‘rebel’ persona which London’s mythology claims plays so well for him.