Posts Tagged ‘London Politics’

Jody McIntyre at ‘Progressive London’

January 13, 2011

Ken Livingstone’s fan club has organised a gettogether. The electic mix of leftie speakers ranges from mainstream, sensible Labour politicians (Emily Thornberry and Len Duvall) through to politicians who stand against Labour candidates  (Salma Yaqoob and Darren Johnson).

I’m sure it all makes perfect sense in Ken’s head!

Progressive London has also invited Jody McIntyre to speak. He is the political activist who has cerebral palsy and came to prominence when he was badly treated by the police at one of the tuition fees protests.

Now I don’t like coppers dragging people out of wheelchairs at protests, but I also don’t think that Jody McIntyre wants to be patronised because of his disability when he is very capable at expressing his passionate political views.

I therefore have no qualms in saying that, having looked at McIntyre’s blog and read some of his articles, his politics are thoroughly moronic. Whilst everyone knows that Ken has a soft spot for obsessive Israel-bashers, it’s hard to tell how McIntyre’s standard Trot views can contribute to the campaign to get Boris Johnson out of City Hall.

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Ken wins my support and then immediately does his best to lose it again

July 9, 2010

We London Labourites have to do a lot of decision-making this summer. Not only do we have to decide which of the Big Five we want for party leader; we also have to select a candidate for the 2012 mayoral election. Lucky us!

With this in mind, I went along to Thursday’s mayoral hustings in Hackney to witness the two prospective candidates – Ken Livingstone and Oona King – as they tried to show us what they’ve got.

Unlike party members proudly wearing the stickers of their favoured candidates, I was entirely undecided. As far as I was concerned both Ken and Oona came with both strengths and weaknesses. Attending the hustings was therefore a genuine opportunity to help me make my mind up.

I liked how Oona walked across the room before the event making (awkward) chit chat with everyone. While we were still waiting for things to get started, I had a quick argument with my friend over the merits of Oona’s proposal for a mayoral term limit. I tried to posit that this would help encourage fresh political talent to come forward so that we would not be so reliant on veterans like Ken hogging the limelight. I really did want to give Oona a chance.

However, as the proceedings got underway and the candidates began to give us their respective spiel it soon became clear that Oona was the weaker of the two.

Her outpourings of meaningless guff were unimpressive. In an apparent effort to turn the hustings meeting into a Waffle House, she at one point essentially said that she would win the election by appealing to people and getting them to vote for her (like, duh!) and at another descended into gobbledygook about the importance of promoting social capital in London (i.e. nice things).

Perhaps I’ve got the wrong idea about the public speaking skills of MPs, but for someone who spent quite a few years in the Commons she was remarkably incoherent. I noted her seemingly claiming to have repealed Thatcher’s anti-trade union legislation, inaccurately saying that the Labour Government had successfully got 50% of school leavers into university, and mistakenly telling the audience that Labour had only enjoyed 12 years in power during the 20th century.

To be harsh but honest, she at times sounded like someone applying to stand as a councillor, not a former MP wanting to run for a position which would make her one of the most powerful Labour politicians in the country.

Admittedly she spoke well on the need to tackle knife crime but promptly ruined it by, whilst hinting at her unproven ‘yoof’ appeal, verging dangerously close to crying out ‘won’t somebody please think of the children?‘ or ‘the children are our future!‘.

Oona criticising Ken for losing the 2008 election when her own biggest claim-to-fame is being defeated in what had been a fairly safe Labour seat was frankly embarrassing.

Say what you like about Ken, but from the very start of the hustings he was impressive. He demonstrated masterful command of the issues which the mayoral election should really be about – transport, policing, housing, the Olympics, etc. Plain speaking and authoritative, there was no guff from the former mayor.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: when Ken is banging on about practical matters of London governance rather than defending obnoxious regimes in Venezuela, Cuba and Iran I agree with just about everything that comes out of his mouth. Listening to his conviction on things such as securing funding for sewerage system upgrades made me realise that I trust him to deal effectively with the unglamorous but nevertheless important aspects of London politics.

The hustings came to an end and I approached Ken to let him know that he’d won me over. He seemed pleased and asked what exactly had done the trick. I gave an honest appraisal and made clear that whilst he had come across as the stronger candidate I still vehemently disagreed with him when it came to his views on Islamism and multiculturalism.

This prompted a clearly oft-used defense of Sheikh al-Qaradawi – apparently he’s a nicer bloke in the flesh than the nasty right-wing press makes out. According to Ken, al-Qaradawi is a progressive Muslim scholar who only defends suicide bombing in Israel because it’s a war zone. Gulp.

Whilst I listened on in bemusement, Ken explained his theory that Islam was 700 years behind Christianity and so naturally was not going to be very progressive on questions such as gay rights. Anyway, surely it was better to engage with the relatively moderate Islamic scholars rather than let Al Qaeda present themselves as the sole representatives of Muslims, Ken suggested.

Ken was friendly and seemed up for a comradely debate on this. I dearly wanted to point out that al-Qaradawi was a reactionary old religionist rather than an elected representative of Muslims or indeed any other human beings and therefore Ken was under no obligation to give him the time of day.

Of course, I would also have liked to have said to Ken’s face that I was disgusted by his working with Iran’s Press TV and some of his other weird dalliances into foreign policy.

But by this point I was becoming nauseous and wanted to get away from Ken before he turned me into a devoted member of the Oona campaign.

If only there was some way Ken could be persuaded to focus his considerable talents and energies entirely on improving London and standing up for the values of municipal socialism.

If only his tendency to indulge dodgy regimes and his bizarre soft spot for Islamism could be expunged.

I would then be enthusiastic about supporting him.

Choice and confusion

June 1, 2010

The other selection battle taking place this summer is going to be for Labour’s mayoral candidate. Yet another tough decision to make by September – not sure I’ll be able to handle all this excitement.

I had originally decided that I was fed up with Ken Livingstone’s penchant for Islamists and was therefore in the market for an alternative.

Johnson (Alan) versus Johnson (Boris) could have been fun but unfortunately the Shadow Home Secretary has ruled himself out. Boring!

Oona King has a lot going for her so I’m willing to hear her out. However, it has to be said that the policy-lite ‘children are the future’ guff coming out of Oona’s launch was not very inspiring.

Then Ken goes and launches his own campaign. He presses all of the right buttons. At this stage, I am far more confident that Ken would be a more competent and dynamic mayor than King.

If only Ken never discussed matters of foreign policy and had a more sophisticated take on multiculturalism than cosying up to the self-appointed leaders of minority ethnic groups and labelling any critics ‘racists’ or ‘Islamophobes’.

Then I would not be so undecided and confused.

Battle of Barking and Dagenham 2010

May 25, 2010

I’ve just received the latest issue of Searchlight. It is fairly self-congratulatory, but deservedly so. After all, Searchlight’s Hope not Hate campaign in Barking and Dagenham contributed to the glorious crushing of the BNP’s hopes to gain their first Westminster seat and control of a local authority.

I regret that I didn’t get out there so that I could feel like I played my part. All my political campaigning activities have been restricted to within half a mile of Jako Towers for the last six months. Obviously I would have felt awful if the BNP had been successful. Therefore I’m satisfied with being slightly regretful.

I was disappointed to hear that Nick Griffin plans to step down as BNP leader in 2013. With his history of blatant Hitler-fancying, his ability to provoke even his closest allies into wanting to kill him, and his clear incompetence and general weirdness, we anti-fascists must be concerned that the BNP will find themselves a decent leader to replace him. However, that seems unlikely.

Anyway, congratulations to Searchlight. Surely everyone must now recognise the wisdom of Searchlight’s strategy of long-term engagement in local politics, winning the support of trade unions and other community groups and co-operating with Labour as the party most likely to beat the BNP in places like east London and Stoke.

Praise be that Searchlight were in Barking and Dagenham and prepared to patiently carry out all the canvassing and leafletting that they did. The ‘tactics’ of Unite Against Fascism – organise a noisy demonstration and more often than not these days end up fighting the police –  are worse than useless.

Searchlight is undoubtedly the top dedicated anti-fascist campaigning organisation in the country, perhaps even the world. Good on them.

The Man Who Would Be A Rubbish King.

January 27, 2010

Blogger Adam Bienkov submitted a Freedom of Information request to see correspondence between Boris Johnson and Prince Charles.

This is being resisted. However, interesting revelations have still come to light. According to the Evening Standard:

Mr Johnson is understood to receive handwritten memos from the Prince “every few months”. Sources also claim the Mayor has met Charles at Clarence House every three or four months.
  
It raises questions over how far Charles influenced the Chelsea Barracks housing project. The development was dropped last June by its Qatari backers after Charles wrote to them criticising its modernist appearance.
Prince Charles has raised some eyebrows in the past by stating strong opinions on topics as diverse as fox hunting, GM crops, and education.
 
Rather than play-it-safe by concentrating entirely on supporting charities, Prince Charles cannot resist the urge to share his views on controversial matters. A former aide claimed that the Charles sees himself as a “dissident” and feels compelled to confront majority opinion when he feels it is mistaken.
 
If Charles was a normal, though obviously slightly eccentric, letter-writing bloke, that would be fine. Charles Windsor could participate in debates, lobby powerful politicians, and even stand for election if he so wanted.
 
But as Prince and future monarch, Chuck must accept that he has to stand above the political fray. For the monarchy to survive in a democratic polity it has to depoliticise itself as far as possible. That means abstaining from these sorts of arguments and avoiding putting excessive pressure on politicians to do what you want them to do, whether in public or in private.
 
Queen Liz II has managed to function in such a manner quite successfully. Her reign has seen some tumultuous political happenings, but Elizabeth has stayed aloof and has therefore preserved the “dignity” of her position.
 
She is apparently shy and not especially interested in politics and current affairs, so that has all worked out very conveniently. Her popularity was only really dented by the personalised controversy surrounding the Royals’ treatment of Diana.
 
A King Charles III who uses his position to influence elected officials and to try to change policy decisions will soon alienate politicians and probably public opinion at large. Good news for republicans like me. Does Charles have the self-discipline to change his behaviour once he inherits the bench covered in velvet? Stories such as this suggest not.

Ken Livingstone up to his old tricks.

December 23, 2009

As I’ve said before, I like many things about Ken Livingstone and his politics, but I am also very annoyed by his cosying up to Islamist organisations.

I received an email today from Progressive London (basically Ken’s re-election campaign group). They are holding a conference at the end of January. A variety of ‘progressive’ speakers will be there. Obviously I’m not going to approve of all of them – after all Ken wants to establish a broad-based coalition of support.

However, I’m uber-peeved that Ken has invited Abdul Bari of the Muslim Council of Britain and Anas Altikriti of the British Muslim Initiative. Ken’s close cooperation with these so-called representatives of Muslim opinion reeks of communalist politics – i.e. get someone from an organisation with the word ‘Muslim’ in its title and we can then rely on them to deliver us the Muslim votes.

It is sickening to have these organisations represented at a left-wing conference when many aspects of their politics are so far from ‘progressive’ (at least as far as I understand what the term is supposed to mean). The Muslim Council of Britain spent many years boycotting Holocaust Memorial Day. The British Muslim Initiative is led by a man linked by the BBC to Hamas and who was apparently caught on camera ranting about the “evil Jew”.

Ken’s connections to these reactionary weirdos makes me far less enthusiastic about supporting him again as Labour’s candidate for Mayor of London.

Mayor Trumps.

November 5, 2009

Earlier this week Boris Johnson came to the rescue of film director Franny Armstrong when a bunch of hoodlums set upon her. Although she’s not a Tory and actually voted for Ken Livingstone at the last mayoral election, Armstrong said: “If you find yourself down a dark alleyway and in trouble I think Boris would be more use than Ken”.

Is this true? Does Boris really trump Ken when it comes to fighting prowess? Here is a very serious assessment of their differing capabilities…

BORIS ‘BRUISER’ JOHNSON

HEIGHT: 5 feet 10 inches.

COMBAT EXPERIENCE: Trained in basic thuggery at the ‘Bullingdon Club’. Thought to be a specialist in smashing plates, throwing pot plants through windows, and then paying for the damage. 8/10

ALLIES ON THE BATTLEFIELD: His mate Darius Guppy knows some gentlemen who will break legs for cash. Boris is happy to go along with such schemes. 6/10

BRUTE STRENGTH: Look at him, he’s a sizeable fellow. Plus his constant cycling and history of rumbustious extramarital affairs suggest considerable energy. 8/10  

SECRET MANOEUVER: ‘The BoJo Piffle’. Boris starts waffling on about Ancient Rome and drops in a few witticisms whilst waving his arms around manically. Potentially amusing, but rarely deadly. 3/10

LOW CUNNING: Pretending to be a buffoon but actually getting himself elected as London Mayor and perhaps establishing himself as a rival to fellow Old Etonian David Cameron. 9/10

OFFENSIVENESS: Has managed to offend cities such as Liverpool and Portsmouth. Has said ridiculous things about gay marriage. During his editorship of The Spectator he was happy to allow pretty racist articles to be printed. His own ‘humourous’ description of African “watermelon smiles” and “piccaninnies” also got him in a spot of bother during the mayoral campaign. 9/10

OVERALL ‘KO’ ABILITY: 7/10-ish

 

KEN ‘LEFT HOOK’ LIVINGSTONE

HEIGHT: I can’t find a reference to Ken’s height on the intergoogles, but considering his love of giving planning permission to tall buildings let’s say somewhere around 1,020 feet.

COMBAT EXPERIENCE: As a prominent anti-war figure it would be against Ken’s principles to involve himself in violence, although he can get very cross indeed during heated arguments with Evening Standard hacks. 2/10

ALLIES ON THE BATTLEFIELD: Very chummy with former general Hugo Chavez. Ken’s hosting of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams in the 1980s and suicide bombing justifier Yusuf al-Qaradawi in 2004 means he has good contacts with people not totally averse to physical force tactics. 9/10

BRUTE STRENGTH: Ken doesn’t do too well here, but his love of whisky drinking could well unleash some pent-up aggression at the required moment. 5/10

SECRET MANOEUVER: ‘The Screaming Newt of Doom’. Ken revs up his voice to produce an ear-splitting nasal whine so powerful that it can destroy Frank Dobson’s mayoral hopes and really irritate Prime Ministers. 10/10

LOW CUNNING: Getting cheap oil from Venezuela for London buses whilst they get, um, consultancy or something wishywashy like that in return. 7/10

OFFENSIVENESS: Telling a Jewish journalist that he was like a concentration camp guard and then refusing to apologise was fairly rude. His cosying up to Islamists and views on Israel have certainly not endeared him to the Jewish community. Saying things about the British treatment of the Irish being worse than Hitler’s treatement of the Jews made him seem like a twit in just about everybody’s eyes. 9/10

OVERALL  ‘KO’ ABILITY: 7/10-ish

Ergo, Ms Armstrong is wrong to so readily dismiss Ken’s fighting skills.

Although the former mayor may not look up to much, the people on Ken’s Christmas card list could prove very valuable as allies in a combat situation, and the secret manoeuver he keeps hidden up his sleeve can be devastating.

Admittedly Boris is better in a straightforward punch-up, but a holistic assessment suggests that the former and the present London mayors are pretty evenly matched.

A question for the tantric master.

October 6, 2009

Going back to Andrew Charalambous, the recently selected Tory PPC for Edmonton who also goes by the name of ‘Dr. Earth’, I am a bit puzzled by a discrepancy between his Evening Standard profile and the biography put up on his campaign website.

Charalambous’ campaign biog is a lot drier (emphasising his very respectable volunteering as a Special Constable) than the description of him the Standard found on his Club4Climate site  (“He has completed one of the profoundest spiritual journeys in history”; “He has dated some of the most beautiful women in the world”; “He is a tantric master initiated in India”).

I can understand that the Conservative Party don’t think Charalambous’ tantric skills or pioneering use of waterless urinals will necessarily help him in the rough and tumble of electioneering.

However, I would have thought that his campaign website would mention that Charalambous “has a PhD in the parallels between Plato’s utopia and Spartan society”. The ‘Education’ section of his official biography neglects to mention this. How odd. Possessing a PhD is a pretty impressive achievement, which is undoubtedly why Charlambous previously told people he had one.

So why is there now no mention of the PhD?

Whither Dr. Earth’s doctorate?

Conservative Candidate: “All you have to do is dance to save the world”.

October 4, 2009

The Tories have selected their candidate for the North London constituency of Edmonton. He appears to be quite a character.

Andrew Charalambous is the owner of a nightclub and a property empire. The Evening Standard looked up his website and found him describing himself as a “tantric master” who has “dated some of the most beautiful women in the world”. No wonder Edmonton Conservative Association were impressed.

Charalambous seems to have since edited his website to remove these claims. Perhaps Tory HQ are worried that their candidate – who is apparently a fruitarian – may come across as a bit too fruity for the voters? Or as a bit of a fruitcake?

His nightclub can be found on Pentonville Road, Islington. It has a dance floor that generates electricity or something as people dance on it. Hence Charalambous’ views on the link between dancing and saving the planet. I’ve never been inside the club but I’ve walked by many times. It looks a tad rubbish. Its website is, however, very entertaining. Charalambous likes to go by the alias of ‘Dr Earth’, which is an unfortunate choice of name considering Charalambous’ striking resemblance to ‘Dr Evil’.  In the Contact section it is stated that Charalambous’ Club4Climate is “the worlds [sic] biggest environmental organisation on the planet”. Had you heard of it before? No, me neither.

The Evening Standard profile quotes Charalambous as saying that he was “the first male feminist”. He is such a good feminist that he recently sponsored the UK selection round of the ‘Miss Earth’ beauty contest and was himself the Chief Judge. All feminists should now note that sleazing over women wearing not many clothes is ok if it’s being done in an environmentally sustainable way.

I’ve got a feeling that Charalambous’ candidacy is going to prove a source of much merriment. I only wish we were facing him in Islington S&F. As someone commented on the Evening Standard article: “Mad as a box of frogs”.

It’s official: Richard Barnbrook of the BNP is a dirty liar.

September 24, 2009

Failed artist, former homoerotic film maker, and BNP London Assembly member Richard Barnbrook has been found guilty of fabricating stories of murders in his constituency and of therefore bringing both the GLA and Barking and Dangenham Council into disrepute. He is to be suspended from the council for a month and to take training in ‘Not fibbing’.

Barnbrook’s apology for accidentally, mistakenly, and ever so unwittingly telling a massive Porkie Pie was guffaw-inducing. He put on a totally OTT act exaggerating his dyslexicness (funny how he has never spoken so slowly or struggled with his words to quite such a painful degree in his Assembly appearances!). He additionally claimed that the sound of loud church bells had confused him and made him start speaking utter shite (how very anti-Christian of him; surely it would have been more in keeping with BNP teachings to blame a rowdy local mosque?).

The BNP are scum. Help take action to spread the word.