Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Ken Livingstone meets London Labour Link

Last night following the London UNISON Labour Link Forum there was there was a "Ken for London"
meeting at the UNISON HQ in Euston.

Ken gave a 10 minute speech (see phone camera video here on YouTube - hat tip Phil Lewis from

Picture is of Ken with the Chair of the UNISON London retired members Rob Beeston and Joel Bodmer who is chair of UNISON London Young members (and national) network.

We gave Ken a tour of the building and the campaigning phone bank.
UNISON has put out this press release 

Livingstone meets London Labour Link

UNISON activists raised their concerns about the future of public services in London at a meeting with Labour mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone last night.

The event, which also included Greater London Assembly candidates Andrew Dismore, Murad Qureshi - who are both UNISON members - and John Biggs, also gave union activists a chance to discuss the campaign with the candidates.

"Ken spoke about how he will put the needs of UNISON members and ordinary Londoners first by cutting fares, increasing the number of police on the streets, campaigning for a living rent, building homes for Londoners, restoring the campaign for the London Living Wage and standing up against attacks on public services," said John Gray of the Greater London UNISON Labour Link committee.

"We need to support Ken and the Labour candidates and return a Labour mayor and a Labour majority on the GLA on 3 May."


Anonymous said...

Evening Standard: Voter fraud fears are exposed in run-up to election - see link

Search for Newham in the article.

Either Newham activists are good at getting voters out. With a transient population....?????

Anonymous said...

I heard Robin Wales say he found 38 people in a house. Were they registered voters?

John Gray said...

Hi anon

No link and only a moron would believe everything written in the Standard. It is behaving in this election yet again as a right wing rag.

Newham activists are good at getting voters out. Every weekend and durign the week we have 10-15 canvass teams out door knocking and delivering leaflets.

You can be pretty sure that the 38 people found overcrowded in that HMO were not registered anything.

macuser_e7 said...

"Newham activists are good at getting voters out."

Hmm, that's not quite what the facts say.

At the 2010 general election turnout in East Ham and West Ham was a shade over 55%. The UK national average was 65%.

In the mayoral election held on the same day turnout was just 50%.

In the council election, also the same day, the best turnout in any ward was 52.28% (take a bow, East Ham North) and the worst was just 40.2% (hang your heads in shame, Canning Town North).

Without the added incentive of a general election on the same day turnout at the London mayoral election is likely to fall well below 50% in Newham. In fact I'll be surprised if it gets about 40%.

John Gray said...

Hi Macuser

That statement was in response to anon with his dog whistle nonsense.

I think that the facts suggest low turnout is a national inner city problem rather than just a Newham one. I am also pretty certain that in the last election turnout was improved by canvassing, leafleting and stalls. We will have a similar effect in May but the turnout will still be disappointing.

The main problem is (and I hate to agree with anon) is a 1/3rd of our housing is in the private rented sector with its predominantly short term lets. People move in and out of the borough and around it every 6 months or so. There is a relatively high and stable majority who do not but in some wards 25% of eligible voters may have already moved out by election day.

Personally, I think voting in elections is a duty and it should be made compulsory as it is in Australia.

macuser_e7 said...

You said "personally, I think voting in elections is a duty and it should be made compulsory as it is in Australia."

I'd agree, but only if there's a "None of the above" option and a requirement to re-run the election if that option gets the highest vote.

I also think, regarding low turnout in Newham, that people are less inclined to bother if the result isn't in doubt: "If my vote makes no difference, what's the point?"

This is slightly off-topic for this post, but I think moving council elections to some kind of proportional representation would help encourage engagement. With every vote making a difference all parties would have an incentive to work as hard as possible to get their voters to the polls.

John Gray said...

Hi macuser

Yes, I could live with that.

I think you should also consider whether there is a low turn out because people are relatively content with the political status quo? This is of course a dangerous assumption to make.

It's actually not off topic but I despite being a fan of AV I don't think that there is the evidence in the GLA or EU elections that support the view that PR does encourage engagement.

macuser_e7 said...


I would never, ever want the Tories or their Lib Dem chums running Newham, but I think we'd see a better Labour administration if there were a decent chunk of opposition councillors to ask the hard questions and provide some kind of challenge. At the very least, debates would be held in the open and policies would have to be justified. That's something we don't see in the current 25-minutes-or-less council meetings.

At the 2010 election Labour took 65.7% of the vote in Newham and the opposition parties split the rest among themselves. My analysis of the results showed that a proportional council would have seen 39 Labour members, 11 Tories, 5 Christianists, 2 Lib Dems, 2 Respect and 1 other. Labour would have had a big enough majority (plus the mayor, obviously) to run the council, but enough opposition to hold them to account. Personally, I think that would be a good thing and it sounds to me from your previous reply as if you agree!

Regarding PR and turnout, you make a fair point. Though in the case of the european parliament I think the generally negative attitude towards the EU fostered by the right-wing press, plus the apparent remoteness of the parliament from the everyday lives of voters (when do you ever see reports of their debates, even in the 'quality' press?) means people don't much see the point in voting.

John Gray said...

Hi Macuser

Yes, I do wish there was a credible opposition in Newham. But it just isn't our fault that the opposition, left and right, in Newham, is so completely useless.

I suspect in Newham however, that if more voters thought the outcome was in doubt that the Labour vote even with PR would actually rise.

While you are right about the problems regarding PR and Europe I still expect the turnout for GLA/London Mayor to be poor.

We need to have compulsory voting.

Taff said...


Interesting debate and I think everyone in Newham would benefit from some sort of meaningful opposition and the scrutiny it might provide.

But on your point about regular activism in the borough - in 23 years of living in Newham the only time I have ever had a councillor or leaflet dropper on the doorstep was with elections looming (and most recently in 2010 my 3 "representatives" knew - honestly - nothing about my questions about their leader's activities, including things they had voted through at Council meetings the previous week!!).

Probably backs up macuser's point about 25 minute council meetings where surely even you would have to recognise that the level of questioning / scrutiny is negligible, astonishing given some of the things voted through in the name of Labour?

John Gray said...

Hi taff (whatever one)

We will just have to take your (anon) assertion that this is true I suppose.

In Newham we now door knock, canvass and leaflet all year round regardless of elections. So I am surprised at your comments.

I use to attend Full Council meetings as an officer (LBTH) which had a (very) lively opposition(s). I enjoyed the knockabout but didn't think it had much to do with scrutiny.

Again, it is not the responsibility of the Labour Party in Newham to elect opposition Councillors. At the end of the day we are all accountable at the ballot box.

We do have scrutiny committee meetings open to the public. Maybe you should turn up and have a look?