Lord Ken of Cricklewood? Say it ain’t so

Ken for a peerage and/or shadow cabinet role? He's not always been the best judge of public mood.


Rumours were being widely circulated yesterday that Jeremy Corbyn is about to appoint Ken Livingstone as a Labour peer. Not only would this put the former mayor in a position to take a shadow cabinet role, it would also show Labour moderates that their leader means business and doesn’t plan to capitulate to their pressure any time soon.

It would also be a completely stupid idea.

Of course at this stage it is only a rumour, albeit a compelling one. Conspiracists may think that by allowing the Livingstone rumour to generate, particularly after his recent outbursts, all other changes in the Labour leader’s rumoured reshuffle will seem tame by comparison – reducing the ever-vengeful moderates to a feeling of relief rather than anger, whatever the other outcomes.

But if the rumours are true they certainly need a rethink.

Ken was a formidable Mayor, nobody can deny that. He was outspoken, didn’t toe the party line, nor anybody’s line, which may have made him tricky to deal with but it certainly made him very popular, particularly with Londoners who for the most part felt he had their interests at heart.

Many of us will have our top Ken moments. His speech after the 7/7 bombings perfectly captured the mood of the capital, not resigned to being scared, but finding the resolve to carry on as normal. As he said at the time:

“This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It was not aimed at Presidents or Prime Ministers. It was aimed at ordinary, working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young and old. It was an indiscriminate attempt to slaughter, irrespective of any considerations for age, for class, for religion, or whatever.”

But Ken hasn’t always been such a good judge of mood. It was utterly disgusting that he warmly invited Yusuf al-Qaradawi – who he described as “one of the leading progressive voices in the Muslim world” – to London in 2005 with the intention of enhancing relations between the West and the Muslim religion; a man who endorsed genital mutilation, the execution of homosexuals and wife-beating.

It was only this year that al-Qaradawi decided to oppose the tactic of suicide bombing in Israel by Palestinians, and even then he points out that this tactic is still permissible to those specifically living under Israeli occupation.

It was also very telling that Ken supported a Labour opposition candidate in Tower Hamlets in 2010 who had links with the Islamic Forum of Europe, which should have been enough to land him in hot water with the Labour party anyway, let alone his continued presence on their National Executive Committee.

And if you think that’s all ancient history, since the election of Labour’s new leader and the promotion of Ken to co-convenor of Labour’s defence policy, Livingstone has told Kevan Jones MP, who suffers with depression, that he might need “psychiatric help” for some of his opinions, and told an audience of BBC’s Question Time that the 7/7 terrorists gave their lives in protest – a trope worthy of the label neo-colonial in its denial of autonomy and responsibility of those evil Asian and Jamaican men.

Still not convinced? Then perhaps just listen to Ken’s own words on the House of Lords and peerages:

  • In 2012, asked whether he would accept a peerage from Ed Miliband, he told the Radio 4 Today programme: “Oh God, no, spare me that. I’ve been punished enough.”
  • Speaking in July: “There’s a scandal every now and then, the House of Lords just carries on getting bigger and bigger. We should abolish it. It’s a complete joke. Cameron’s about to stuff it with more of his cronies, if Labour wins we’re going to have to stuff it with more of our cronies. Soon we’re going to have a thousand of them!”

If Ken is the best we have, then we are in trouble. But as a positive message to Jeremy Corbyn, there are plenty of socialists within the parliamentary Labour party who are far more worthy than Ken; far better able to judge the public mood and tell right from wrong.

For the sake of the party, listen to the former mayor when he scorns Labour for stuffing the Lords with their own cronies. He didn’t realise then how right he’d be.

23 Responses to “Lord Ken of Cricklewood? Say it ain’t so”

  1. Mike B

    For a few days after the 7/7 bombing Ken saw the venal nature of terrorism. He then forgot it again and relapsed into school boy politics. So much potential and so little sence.

  2. treborc

    Makes me smile that people are falling for the idea that the most right wing, Blair Rite, Progress Group, of MPs are in some way shape or form moderates.

  3. Sid

    Since Saturday 12th Sept 2015 Labour have taken over as the Nasty Party with their support for violent terrorist groups.

  4. David Lindsay

    I do not believe for one second that he would give up his seat on the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party. But if he really wanted to get back in, then he would wait for the Tooting by-election. The candidate for that will be picked by the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party. Yes, He Khan?

  5. David Lindsay

    The voters don’t seen to mind.

  6. David Lindsay

    A number of the Labour MPs in the Start the War Coalition are of my own generation, and I understand why they are as they are. They joined the party that was sweeping all before it when we were teenagers, but they never bothered to check what that party was at least supposed to be for or about.

    Nor, of course, did Tony Blair, whose canonical list of accomplishments comes entirely from his first term, and almost entirely from his first Queen’s Speech, which was itself well to the right of the manifesto on which he had won the first of his three uncontested General Elections.

    The Conservatives knew that they were not going to win in 1997, so they did not bother to try. With any effort, they could have cut the Labour majority drastically in 2001, and they could have won in 2005. They consciously chose to make no such effort. They lost on purpose. Blair’s record-making and record-breaking need to be seen in that light.

    20 years later, the boys who looked and sounded as if they ought to have been footballers or the members of boy bands, and who were therefore deemed suitable for political preferment in the parallel universe that was Blair’s Labour Party, are now Members of Parliament, and are politically still as illiterate and indifferent as they ever were.

    Mind you, their tragedy, and thus ours, does not compare to that of the boys who looked and sounded as if they ought to have been footballers or the members of boy bands, and whose political illiteracy and indifference ranked with anyone’s, but who were still not deemed suitable for political preferment in the parallel universe that was Blair’s Labour Party. Such forlorn creatures do exist. But at least they are not making up the numbers of the Labour MPs in the Start the War Coalition.

  7. Barry_Edwards

    Cannot be worse than the hordes of ‘friends of Dave’ (read ‘donors to Dave’) in ermine!

  8. AlanGiles

    It is no more grotesque a suggestion than “Sir” Cliff Richard, or “Sir” Richard Branson or “Dame Tessa” and her services to the remortgaging industry

  9. Cole

    …only a 11% Tory lead

  10. Cole

    What are you on about? Anyway, we all know so called STW is made up of a nasty mix of Trots, Stalinists and Islamists.

  11. David Lindsay

    National figures are essentially meaningless. The Tory vote halved at Oldham. They are going to lose between 30 and 40 of their remaining 44 seats in the North of England. That’s enough to cost them a majority, and then some.

  12. Cole

    What’s the evidence for that? By-elections are no guide to national elections, as we know from endless Liberal by election victories. The chances are that Labour will lose seats unless something changes fast.


    You are right whatever happened to the idea of socialism.


    David Lindsay, They lost on purpose. I will not be rude and reply to your shite.

  15. David Lindsay

    There is no national electoral politics anymore. The Tories are finished in Scotland (so might Labour be), they are finished in the North, and they already hold most of the seats in the South, so they have nowhere left to go there. Apart from down.

  16. David Lindsay

    I used to think that they lost in 2005 because they were useless. But I am now convinced that it was more than that. Wit the slightest effort, they could have beaten Blair by then. But they chose not to make that effort.

  17. Arthur ASCII

    As a Londoner of a “certain age”, I remember the sterling work Ken did with the GLC.

    For the first time, my mum and dad could afford the bus fare into the city on a regular basis, instead of walking from Clapham.


    Glasgow Corporation charged pensioners 1p. It was a token fee so that pensioners were contributors to the system. Everyone wants a freebie for everything nowadays as long as someone else pays.

  19. Intolerant_Liberal

    It became poisoned with affluent trendy lefties either playing at being rebels, or the Fabian socialists, who eulogise the workers from a safe distance whilst getting very good salaries. No real principles to speak of, any of them. They haven’t even sold out, because they were never true in the first place.

  20. Intolerant_Liberal

    Alright Arthur. Nice to see you’re online now. Do you get around on hoverboard, being, should I be polite, bereft quite strongly in the leg department???
    Anyway, cheers, and please make more movies!! Preferably one with Beyoncé and Jason Statham.

  21. Wedgie Benn

    And if the Tories win more seats in Birmingham, Luton, and outer London?

  22. Cole

    Ridiculous. Blair was remarkably popular in 2005, in spite of Iraq. And Howard was not exactly a compelling leader.

  23. jobacon

    Ken Livingstone has always had a very shrewd political agenda, as those who know his career path can bear witness. He moves from constituency to constituency, building up a following. Yes, he reduced the transport fares, in the same way that Thatcher – with whom he had more in common than either of them would like to think! – allowed the selling of council houses, which the state did not own in the first place, to private owners. A piece of demagogery, in other words. His support of Rahman Khan in Tower Hamlets was a gamble which he eventually lost, thank goodness, and shows his hypocrisy, since he must have been perfectly well aware of what Khan and his cohorts were up to.

Leave a Reply