Ken Livingstone

Corbyn Appoints New Campaign Chief to Replace Simon Fletcher

First published on Labour Vision

Jeremy Corbyn has appointed a new campaign chief to replace former Ken Livingstone aide Simon Fletcher. Niall Sookoo who previously worked in Corbyn’s press team returns for another bite of the cherry. He takes on a tough task in the shadow of Labour’s disastrous loss in Copeland.

In Sookoo’s favour he inherits a blank piece of paper. Jon Trickett did so little as the shadow cabinet campaign coordinator that even Corbyn thought his performance was lacklustre. He then sacked him in the middle of two byelections – and nobody noticed. However, poor Sookoo now has two shadow cabinet bosses – and they could not be more different. Andrew Gwynne won the Oldham byeelection for Corbyn last year and ensured a top notch ground game in Copeland. Ian Lavery has never been involved in any kind of byelection, let alone general election, type operation and labours under the bizarre notion that Corbyn is ‘one of the most popular politicians in the country’.

Since Corbyn has put Labour on a ‘war footing’ he has shown a tendency to misfire. Rather than shooting at the government he seems to only be successful at finding his own foot. (more…)

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May’s muddled thinking

First published on Progressonline for ‘the Last Word’

Theresa May had a pretty bad start to the year with resignation of Sir Ivan Rogers as the United Kingdom’s ambassador to the European Union. It was unfortunate for her that his email to all staff was leaked to the media. His warning about ‘muddled thinking’ should be a theme that the Labour leader – were he to comment on such matters – should pick up on and repeat over and over. May has now made Tim Barrow pretty much unsackable as he takes up his new post in Brussels. The prime minister is due to make a big speech on Brexit in the coming weeks. The Guardian’s cartoonist Ben Jennings sums up her known position extremely well. (more…)

Actions speak louder than words

First published on Progressonline

The home affairs select committee released a seminal report yesterday. It is the culmination of work that started on 12 April 2016. The incidents with Naz Shah, Ken Livingstone and Jacqui Walker all came to light or took place after the inquiry was announced. Unless the committee had some great insight that the former mayor of London was due another controversy involving Britain’s Jewish community, it is hard to suggest – as some have done – that this is part of some establishment plot to undermine Jeremy Corbyn. 

The report is thorough, thoughtful and is the unanimous view of the committee. This should give everyone – particularly the Labour party and the National Union of Students – cause for reflection. A sober analysis is required, not a hot-headed response.  (more…)

Grading the Chakrabarti report

First published on ProgressOnline

The launch of yesterday’s report of the Shami Chakrabarti inquiry was a missed opportunity for Labour. This had little to do with the author of the report – which I will come to in a minute – but the behaviour of the leader. To use such an event as an advertorial for his leaders ‘eyes …’ was laughable. Equally to have attacks on Be-Leavers like Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage for their ‘dog whistle … [no] flog horn’ racism in the recent EU referendum campaign but no condemnation of the former mayor of London Ken Livingstone – who triggered this inquiry in the first place – or Jackie Walker of Momentum who suggested that Jews paid for the slave trade was pathetic party politics and left the Labour leader wanting. Leadership is calling out your own side not just your opponents. Then, an at best a poor choice of words resulted in Emily Thornberry – the new shadow foreign secretary – calling the Israeli Ambassador on the leader’s behalf to apologise for any offence caused by perceived comparisons between Israel and Daesh.  (more…)

Julia Hartley-Brewer talks to Richard Angell about Labour’s antisemitism problem

talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer talks to Richard Angell about Labour’s antisemitism problem following Ken Livingstone’s appearance at the Home Affairs select committee inquiry into antisemitism

You can lend your support to Richard’s eight point plan here: prog.rs/antisemitismaction

‘London’s shop steward’

First published in Progress magazine

The soon-to-be mayor of London Sadiq Khan talks to Richard Angell and Adam Harrison, and he is hungry for new powers

We lost to everyone, everywhere’, says Sadiq Khan, quoting his friend and colleague Jon Cruddas, Labour’s former policy chief speaking on the party’s defeat last May. Scotland was a wipeout, few marginal seats were won, and the Tories even took the constituency of Gower for the first time ever. In another first, Labour lost to the Tories among Sikh and Hindu communities, and in every age category over 44. There is one exception: the capital city. In London, Labour polled 300,000 more votes than the Tories. This should be more than enough to propel the son of a bus driver into city hall this May.

Khan, however, is not complacent. His office is a hive of activity. We struggle to find a quiet spot to huddle as meeting rooms are filled with campaigning briefings and organiser training, and the phones are ringing off the hook. Karen Buck, a long-time ally of Khan and winner against the odds in hyper-marginal Westminster North, is meeting with councillor and housing lead James Murray, who splits his time between Islington town hall, the leader’s office and the mayoral campaign. The staff make up the rich diversity of Labour’s political family – everyone from ardent Corbynista to ‘redeployed’ former Michael Dugher adviser. The whole Labour family has jumped behind the member of parliament for Tooting. (more…)

Livingstone appointment will backfire

First published on the Times Redbox

Putting aside all the usual criticism of his past, and acknowledging Ken Livingstone’s positives as a campaigner and a politician – not least his response to the 7/7 attacks in London – still does not explain his latest appointment to Labour’s defence review. At last night’s Left Book Club relaunch, he announced himself as co-convenor alongside Maria Eagle, the shadow secretary of state.

Of all the people Jeremy Corbyn could have appointed – for those not versed in Labour internal workings, most commissions have a National Executive Committee member as a co-convenor –  he definitely has not gone for a representative of one the unions whose members’ jobs depend on the defence industry. He has even snubbed Margaret Beckett, the former foreign secretary, who nominated him in June and sits on Labour’s management committee. (more…)

King maker

First published in Progress magazine

London mayoral hopeful Oona King reveals how she would wrest City Hall from Boris’s hands, why he is ‘useless’, the Big Society a ‘con’ and how she would help tackle reoffending.

When Oona King launched her campaign to become Labour’s candidate for the 2010 London mayoral election at her old school, Haverstock, she was surprised by the response of the 14-year-olds who had been forced to sit and listen to her talking about national politics. (more…)