Copyright © 2008 riceNpeas
After the Labour Party’s worst local elections defeat in over four decades, I think it is safe to say that the people have spoken and the carcass of New Labour is now in the process of decay.
Unfortunately, in the pandemonium of slaughter, the scalp of Ken Livingstone was undeservedly taken and a new viceroy in the form of Boris Johnson, the lovable rogue and full-time stand-up comedian, now holds the reins to London.
How ironic that in the aftermath of New Labour’s humiliation, the very New Labour stalwarts that fought tooth and nail to sabotage Ken’s chances in the Mayoral race eight years previously, were sitting on the edge of their seats, biting their nails and praying for a Ken victory to redeem their sorry asses. Alas, it was not to be and in the near future, the people of Britain can expect ‘the Blues.’
Ken has taken defeat on the chin and congratulated Boris on a superior campaign, but I wonder how much traction Boris’s campaign would have had without the backing of The Evening Standard, who launched an undignified and relentless smear campaign against Ken and some of his associates? This worthless rags partisan support for Boris, tampered with the democratic electoral process and clearly altered the final outcome.
What right does The Evening Standard have to coerce and influence the London electorate? This is certainly a sign of the times, an age where media companies and corporations via their circulation and readership tamper with and sabotage the process of democracy without challenge or reprimand. Politicians no longer need to woo voters; their time is much better spent wooing newspaper editors and media moguls.
Nevertheless, the prognosis for New Labour is not looking good and the forecast for Gordon Brown looks even worse. The stench of Iraq still hovers around Number 10; his spend, spend, spend philosophy has begun to unravel and he is accused of being out of touch with the British public.
Ken Livingstone’s mistake was probably getting too close to New Labour; he is a casualty of their war. Whether he would have lost had he stood as an independent is up for debate, but his connections to the Labour Party certainly did him no favours. Many, including myself, have petty gripes with Ken regarding issues such as the expansion of the congestion zone, but let’s be fair; he has been a resourceful, creative and dynamic mayor who played a significant role in securing London as the home for the 2012 Olympics; he has been the driving force behind many of the improvements to the capital’s transport system; including subsidising travel for the unemployed, single parents and those on benefits, and he has enhanced the reputation of London as a culturally diverse, vibrant and free-thinking city. I wonder if Boris loves London and the cultural diversity of the capital as Ken does? Can Boris deliver the goods as Ken has? Or is this just a convenient career move for an eccentric, conservative misfit, a charming toff who is still figuring out what to do now that he has left public school?
Ishmahil Blagrove, Jr.
1st May 2008
EDITORIAL: London Has the Blues