Ken Livingstone (Image: World Economic Forum/Annette Boutellier)
When Ken Livingstone lost the Mayoralty of London in 2008, it seemed to be the end of his political career. It wasn’t. In spite of warnings from senior figures in the Labour party including MPs and trade union leaders, Livingstone was chosen to be Labour mayoral candidate in the 2012 mayoral election.
He was inevitably beaten once again by Boris Johnson.
Ken Livingstone can't be defeated in the London Labour party, and as a result he will not be expelled from the Labour party, regardless of what he says or does.
London Labour now has a throttle hold on the national Labour party. It has disproportionate influence on the NEC which will ultimately decide his future in the party. Of the NEC’s 35 members, four live in Islington alone. London Labour also dominates the Shadow Cabinet with three of the top five offices of state in the Shadow Cabinet held by MPs with London seats (McDonnell, Abbott and Corbyn and Thornberry who represent Islington North and South respectively). The NEC is dominated by London Labour and the Shadow Cabinet and Corbyn’s power base is rooted in London Labour.
Labour now has 229 MPs. 45 from London. At the next election, London could be Labour’s last bastion. On current polling, Labour could lose as many as 100 seats in a snap election. If only London holds (as predicted), one in three Labour MPs could come from London alone.
Ken Livingstone still has sway in the London Labour party. London Labour has disproportionate influence in the Labour party. His comments and behaviour after Tuesday’s appalling decision by the National Constitutional Committee will have no bearing on the NEC. Ken Livingstone’s comments are beneath contempt. I can’t better the analysis by David Hirsh in the Jewish Chronicle that “Ken Livingstone has spent his career pushing the view that Zionism and Nazism are effectively the same.”
It is astonishing that this is acceptable in a party that has done more than any other to fight racism. As Labour slowly dies in front of its MPs, there will come a point where they decide to administer CPR or let a once great party expire.
If they want to save Labour they need to put London region back in its box. Once London Labour was seen as a model for organising that the rest of the UK should emulate. Now it is a part of Labour’s complex, slow and unpleasant death.