Monday, 8 December 2014

Could this be the beginning of the end for London Labour's Stockholm Syndrome?

I am a little late to this and I also fear I may just have asked one of my friend John Rentoul's fabled "Questions To Which The Answer Is No" (that is, a headline question to which the writer wants to imply the answer is yes, but it is not). However, I have seen an encouraging sign for Labour, in times when such are few and far between.

The long-suffering local activists of Tower Hamlets Labour Party not only had to put up with Ken Livingstone campaigning for then independent mayoral candidate Lutfur Rahman in 2010. Having won, the latter has since made a disaster of his mayoralty and has had the borough's finances taken over by central government inspectors, not to mention a number of other ongoing investigations, including one questioning the 2014 election result (see Centre Lefts passim).

To add insult to injury, in light of these investigations Livingstone has continued to support the unedifying Rahman against his own party, accusing local councillors of "smears and innuendo" in a shining example of , er, smear and innuendo.

About ten days ago, according to the Evening Standard, the good members of Tower Hamlets Labour - hardly a hotbed of die-hard Blairism, I might add, should you think this might be purely factional in-fighting - finally got sick of Livingstone's antics and passed a motion suggesting that it would be better if he left the party altogether.

Their request went even further than the disciplining I was arguing for here, but not without good reason. And it is good news: it is the first time I can remember that London Labour members have broken from their habitual Stockholm Syndrome regarding the man, as I wrote here two years ago. Normally, no matter how awful the latest revelation, they have shrugged and said, "Ken is Ken", knowing that the party will never act.

But when merely campaigning for a non-Labour candidate is an expulsion offence in the party's rulebook, we do not need to accept this kind of behaviour from a member of the party's National Executive Committee Constituency Section. 

They work for us, not the other way round.

I don't know about you, but I'd be delighted if other constituency parties would follow Tower Hamlets and ask for his resignation. A precedent of untouchability is rarely good for any political party.

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