Wednesday, 8 February 2012

COMMENT: Ken's bigotry will end Miliband's leadership

It seems that Ken Livingstone has commuted electoral suicide today and, as a result, handed the role of London mayor to Boris Johnson for four more years.

His gaffe, the latest in a long list of gaffes that have seen him offend many minority groups in the capital and beyond, was to refer to the Conservatives as being riddled with gays.

No, this isn't "PC gone mad" - that popular phrase of the Daily Mail and Daily Express - it is a truly distasteful comment that could have wider repercussions than the position of London mayor for the Labour Party.

Surely Ed Miliband, the ineffective and increasingly disastrous leader of the Labour Party, will be further wounded by the guaranteed loss of London. It was likely that his leadership was going to be challenged after the expected fails in the local elections in May and, quite probably, the only reason a challenge didn't materialise before Christmas was because it would have damaged Ken's mayoral campaign. Without Ken, as is surely the case now, Ed Miliband is cut adrift from any possible success, and the attention his brother, David, has been gaining for recent speeches can't help Ed's situation

Ken probably shouldn't have been given the nod to run as Labour's candidate again after losing the election last time round and various earlier gaffes. This year he'll turn 67 and, without wanting to be ageist, he has lost the plot. I can only assume he was given the chance to recapture the mayorship through a misguided sentimentality - or because nobody else wanted to have the embarrassment of losing to Boris.

Who could Labour parachute in to stand in May? There aren't many options, but, surely, they wouldn't leave it uncontested?

Ken Livingstone was a political hero to many when he was the leader of the GLC, and when he stood up to Margaret Thatcher. It was, somehow, destiny (if you believe in such things) that he became the first Mayor of London when the role was created by Blair's government, but, in recent times, he has increasingly shown himself to be unpredictable, unpleasant and, quite frankly, bigoted human being.

Labour are due some major reorganisation and desperately need to decide where in the political spectrum they sit. This needs to happen without Ken Livingstone or Ed Miliband.

It's time for change. It's time for the Labour Party to remember its socialist roots.

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