Saturday, May 05, 2012

Boris wins, London loses and do all political careers end in failure?

So it was a close run thing after all. Ken loses to Boris by a 3% tiny margin

It was not all bad. Labour did very well nationally winning 823 Council seats, it won Birmingham and saw off the nats in Glasgow.  Labour picks up 2 extra seats in the London Assembly (but not enough to block the Mayors budget).  Most importantly Labour has began to win in parts of the South East of England. It needs to win outside its traditional heartlands to stand any chance of victory in 2015.

In City and East (Newham, Tower Hamlets, Barking & Dagenham and the City of London) our Labour Assembly member John Biggs was re-elected with over a 100,000 votes winning nearly 63% of turnout.

I wonder about this famous quotation by Enoch Powell (about Conservative politician Joseph Chamberlain) "All political lives, unless they are cut off in midstream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs". Is this true?

I suppose that if you are obsessed with politics you will go on and on until in the end you lose. I'm been trying to think of any prominent post war British politician whose career did not end badly? Think back on Brown, Blair, Major, Thatcher, Callaghan, Wilson, Heath etc

Ken himself I note has said he will not stand again for election but not that he is retiring. I can't imagine him ever giving up politics as long as he has breath in his body so watch this space and see what happens.

Anyway, roll on European elections 2014.


Anonymous said...

Dont understand why Labour is not making more of winning in Laondon 40% plus of the vote well ahead of the Tories

so London voted Left

I do hope the GLA members lay into Boris this time for his failings

Boris won because of the Evening Standard and this needs to be addressed

Boris is a joke and it's up to us all to expose his many failings

The 9% increase in travel fares in January 2013 is a key time

But Boris crononies will be getting their feet under the desk before then

Behind Boris face is a thug we need to get this out in the public

Anonymous said...

Euros are in 2014 not 2013.

Ken looked like a tired disaster going through his paces. Boris rightfully won - thankfully.

Anonymous said...

Please stop blaming the Evening Standard.

I guess, people saw through the Ken's Fare Deal, as nothing but raiding the London Underground treasury for quick buck. It has taken us ages to get back from the 80s underinvestment in the Tube, now Ken copied an old Thatcher idea. The Tube is too important to mess around. Ken had the cheek to admit Tube fares are too high. Where was he in 2000 and 2004?. In New York they were charging $1 per journey. Ken did the right thing by getting the Yank who ran the Metro in New York but that turned out to be a disaster. We are paying £7+ for a journey into Central London.

Ken was bragging about how he won the Olympics this morning on LBC radio. Pointless, when you think the businesses and 5,000 jobs that were lost at the Carpenters Estate and all the people that will be made homeless after Carpenters is bulldozed.

There has been no real regeneration in Newham. Only political speeches "we are doing this for the poor"..... "we are leaving a legacy" (codeword = we failed regeneration but we hope you didn't notice).

Is Newham Council proud of Westfield?. How can the councillors and planning officers have approved such an ugly eyesore of a shed.

Boris did save Queens Market and he saved the Forest Gate form your parties crazy ideas.

Now we have to put up with Boris. His stupid idea of a River Crossing, it will grind East London to a halt. Traffic is a nightmare during rush hour, now it is will be stand still.

I am not a fan of Boris or Ken. Both have let me down.

Anonymous said...

"Is Newham Council proud of Westfield?" Very!

And the succesful effort at getting local people into work there.

John Gray said...

Hi anon 1900

Yes, we need to remind people that London votes left on policies (but not it seems on personalities).

I doubt that Boris will be around for the next London contest. He will have other plans.

Hi anon 20.31

Whoops I'll give you 2014 for next euros (great a year off!) but not about Ken. He was obviously knackered at the end of 23 months of campaigning but ran I thought a lively campaign until the bitter end.

Hi anon 0200

It was not only the Evening Standard but something is very wrong when very rich people can control newspapers and make them print what they want.

No one can seriously doubt that fares under Ken have/would be cheaper. He seems to have plenty of support that investment would not suffer.

You've commented before I think the nonsense about the Olympics and jobs. Did you every visit the old Carpenters industrial estate??? It would appear not?

There are loads and loads of successful regeneration going on all over Newham. I can only guess why you close your eyes to it.

I'm not into shopping centres but pretty much everyone I meet who has been to Westfield has been knocked out by the experience. It is certainly far more attractive and better use of land that the railway sidings that were there beforehand.

macuser_e7 said...


It's easy to blame the Evening Standard for Boris's win but I think that misses the wider point.

Boris polled ahead of his party; Ken polled behind his.

Labour failed to connect Boris to the broken promises and failures of the past 4 years and to the economic disaster being wrought by the Coalition nationally. And it had a candidate Londoners were bored with and rejected in 2008.

Somehow you let the Tory media (not just the Standard) paint Ken as some kind of tax dodger. Cameron banged on about it at PMQs for several weeks running. God knows how you let that one stick.

I've said before in comments on your blog - before the election, so you can't accuse me of using hindsight - that Labour should have picked Oona King. Ken looked like yesterday's man; Oona looks much more like a modern Londoner.

My vote ended up in Ken's pile (on 2nd preference), but without enthusiasm.

John Gray said...

Hi Macuser

As I said it was not just the Evening Standard but the Tory press did play a role.

While Boris did indeed poll way ahead, Ken only underscored the Labour vote by average of 0.8% (and was ahead in 3 assemble seats)which is statistically insignificant.

I'm afraid that it is a old, old story of a left wing London that loves a toff.

Not that Ken ran a perfect campaign (but neither did Boris but the press pretty much ignored this) I think against any other Tory candidate Ken would have won.

I think your comment about "you let the Tory media" set the agenda etc is pretty interesting (or worrying?). Yes, I have no doubt that the Ken media campaign made some mistakes but we do not control the media and they are not definitely subject to "Queensberry rules". You cannot 2set" the agenda, they will print what they want (or their former KGB Billionaire owners tell 'em to do)

I have a lot of time for Oona but I still do not think that she would have beaten Boris. I don't think she would have out polled the Labour vote either. God knows what dog whistle attacks they would have used against her.

But I might be wrong. Which is what makes politics so absorbing.

Anonymous said...

The press, in the main has always been tory. So no surprises there. Ken had two big bogies in his wardrobe ( firstly he was too easy to paint as yesterday's man and, secondly, the press's discovery of his "tax avoidance" was a damaging allegation in my view).

A more chastening thought is that, had we had the old pre-Mayor system, then Labour would be governing the capital instead of Johnson. The same is true of Doncaster.

I've said it before, in another context, this "great man" theory of politics serves only one party (plus mavericks like Galloway) in the long run, hence Cameron's desire to populate all of the big cities with Johnson's ( I am of an age when a johnson was an affectionate name for the male member).

Happily, of the referenda in cities the government wanted to see johnson's in Birmingham (58%),Bradford (55%), Coventry (63%),Leeds (63%), Manchester (53%),Newcastle upon Tyne (62%),Nottingham (57%),Sheffield (65%)and Wakefield (62%) all said "no". Only Bristol said yes.


macuser_e7 said...


If you really think Labour can't set the agenda you might as well give up now. The press isn't as powerful as it once was - there are many other outlets now online, plus TV's obligation to balance means outright lies are much harder to pass off. The public trusts the BBC and ITV news to be honest far more than they trust the press, which they know is biased.

But somehow, despite all of the available tools at your disposal, you let the Tories paint Ken as a tax cheat. Honestly, I can't imagine anyone less likely to fiddle their taxes than Ken, but that's what people ended up thinking. Whoever was running rapid rebuttal on that wants shooting.

I disagree about Oona. I think the Tories would have come seriously unstuck if they'd tried 'dog whistle' tactics on her. The broad mass of Londoners would have seen right through it. And whatever else you may think about Boris, I don't think he'd have sanctioned that anyway (maybe I'm giving him too much credit…). But in any case, had the selection process not been rushed through, perhaps other candidates would have come forward (David Milliband?) or could have been persuaded to stand (Harriet Harman, Tessa Jowell, David Lammy - all would have been strong contenders).

Finally, Spartacus makes a good point. Without the mayoral system Labour would be running London now. And other cities took a long look at London and decided they didn't want a Boris (or a Ken or an anyone else). I think they made the right choice.

John Gray said...

Hi Spartacus

You may well be right that under a pre-mayor arrangement we would be running London but I think the London Mayor is here to stay (who would have believed that Doncaster would vote to keep a mayor after all they went through?)so we need to move on. I think that once they are in place, people like having elected Mayors. Ken won against the odds as a left "personality" so it can be done by us as well.

Hi Macuser

I have got to be honest here that I think you are being incredibly naive about the media. Ken's press office sent numerous attractive and well argued press releases which filled my email inbox up but the media largely ignored.

When I was a kid my father refused to buy any newspapers (including the Mirror) and said they were all biased and we would rely on the BBC for our news. You and I may think that the idea of Ken as a tax cheat is laughable but many people bought those lies regardless of the numerous rebuttals by his team which simply never saw the light of day.

I honour your faith that the Tories would have not tried to destroy Oona thru dog whistle tactics but I think you are wrong, they would have done, and it would have been horrible. Remember 2008.

The selection process was not at all rushed and went on for ages and ages. The Party would have been quite happy for more applicants. Ken was nominated overwhelmingly by Party members and affiliates.

To be honest I now think the reason why more candidates did not put themselves forward was that they recognised that Boris would be so, so difficult to beat.

macuser_e7 said...


Perhaps 'rushed' was the wrong word.

The nomination campaign opened in June 2010 - almost 2 full years before the mayoral election - and was concluded 3 months later.

Did the party really need to pick its candidate more than a year and half ahead of time?

Across the channel in France, the Socialist Party held its open primary for this year's presidential election in October 2011 - just 6 months before the start of the election campaign. Had they gone with Labour's timetable they'd have probably picked Daniel Strauss-Kahn and ended up horribly embarrassed. And beaten.

Of course the other lesson Labour could learn is from the open primary process. 2.5 million people took part in the Socialist Party primary. Anyone on the electoral roll could vote as long as they paid 1 euro and signed a declaration of support for the ideals and values of the party.

The primary process generated a lot of media coverage, there were candidates debates on TV and so on, giving a huge boost to the Socialists. From the point that he won the nomination through to the election, Hollande was never once behind Sarkozy in the polls.

John Gray said...

Hi Macuser

I can't see how electing a candidate 2 years before an election is in principle wrong and 6 months is better? There are pros and cons but usually the longer the better I think?

The issue regarding Strauss-Kahn surely was a very ugly character flaw not timing? It could have blown up at any time?

The open primary session thingy I find interesting? I'm glad that people had at least to pay a fee and sign up to the party aims and objectives. But...haven't we suffered enough from focus group politics? Anyway in the last labour leadership election in theory a similar number took part via trade union affiliations (£3 each rather than 0.80p?)

macuser_e7 said...


Surely an open primary is the exact opposite of focus group politics?

John Gray said...

Hi Macuser

No, I think the big problem with open primaries is that they could (further?) "de-politicise" selection. Personalities who have no politics could well emerge triumphant from such a process?

We could end up with someone even worse as Boris as a mayoral candidate. That is saying something I know, but even if he hides it, Boris does has politics (e.g. right wing Barclay Brothers stuff)

There must be other ways of engaging with the public? But we should be ready to back a Party candidate who has our politics (discuss) who hasn’t yet won the pre-election public argument (left or right).

If a primary selects a populist candidate that does not have the support of the Party activists it could prove also disastrous.