If Boris wins Mayor he’ll challenge Cameron for Tory Leadership

Labour Party

Ken Livingstone always hits the spot. Speaking at the London Labour Party biennial conference today, Ken was utterly convinced that if Boris wins another term as London Mayor he will seek to become the Leader of the Conservative Party.  Watch your back David Cameron!

Ken was as good value as ever promising to keep fares lower than Boris Johnson should he be elected in 2012. He told us that London could show the way for the rest of the country during the next few years if a Labour Mayor worked with the Leader of the Labour Party in much the same way as Herbert Morrison’s London County Council had led social reform in the 1930s.

Opening the Conference, Regional Director Ken Clark paid tribute to Karen Buck MP and Andrew Slaughter MP, both of whom held on to their seats despite the onslaught of the Ashcroft millions. In a powerful speech came up with the appalling statistic that the average 21-year-old in London today will be 52 before she or he can afford to buy a home in the capital such are the effects of the Coalition’s housing cuts. She also put her success down to very hard work over a lengthy period of time.

This was very much the message from Margaret Hodge, MP for Barking, in another strong contribution from the platform. The BNP have been completely annihilated in Barking as a result of the superhuman efforts by Margaret and the local Labour Party. Margaret, in addition, stressed that she and her team had listened to people and acted on the concerns raised, and they always resisted racism.

We were treated to a wonderful knock about by Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, who described his borough as being free of the Tory smell. GLA Member and Chair of the London Labour Party Len Duvall was more restrained making it clear that he did not want to return to 18 years in opposition. I also lived through those years and I heartily agree with Len. The other main speaker was Shadow Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell MP who gave a rousing speech about rebuilding our relationship with local communities.

Over the lunch time we were given a fascinating presentation by the Labour Party Director of Targeting and Election Organisation Patrick Henegan. The main conclusion was that we must treat London as a whole for mayoral elections as every vote counts in all parts of the capital. I would echo this as far as European elections are concerned.

I would particularly like to congratulate Charlie Mansell on his excellent work with the conference arrangements committee, never an easy job.

And finally ………. I had a stall with my annual review and EU literature. Colin Ellar, George Carr and Ruby Thompson from my office gave up their Saturday to look after this stall. My thanks to all three of them.


Labour Party

I am, I hasten to say, writing this before the Norwich North result is declared.  Having worked in the by-election yesterday and the day before, I thought I would share a few thoughts and observations.  I have, as many of you know, a special affection for Nowrich North as I was the Labour candidate in the 1987 General Election, a fact recently pointed out by Iain Dale.

I would like to pay special thanks to my colleague Richarrd Howitt, MEP for the East of England, who helped organise my trip.  Richard worked assiduously in the by-election.  He has always had a reputation for hard work, and is definitely one of the most conscioentious of the Labour MEPs.  

Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, visited the Constituency on Wednesday to an enthusiastic response.  I was pleased to see Phil Dilks, London Labour Party Press Officer, during David’s visit.  I understand that the Director of the London Region, Ken Clark was in Norwich yesterday, though we didn’t actually meet up.  A belated hello to Ken.  In additon, I had the opportunity to catch up with several of the Labour Party national staff who were there – Ray Collins, General Secretary, Alicia Kennedy, Deputy General Secretary, Hilary Perrin and Roy Kennedy.  Emily Thornberry MP for Islington South arrived at the election centre in Mile Cross Ward while I was there and I gather I just missed Stevenage MP Barabara Follett. 

One of the most striking things during my two days in Norwich was the number of young people who turned out to help the Labour Party.  Students, in particular, had come from all over the country.  Who says young people are turned off politics?

The weather was almost perfect, hot and sunny without being oppressive, just what is required for an election.  There can be very few more pleasant cities than Norwich in the summer.


Labour Party

Since elections are the very stuff of democracy it ill behoves politicians to complain about them. However, I am angry that the fascist BNP have gained two seats in the European Parliament ousting my hard working, intellectual heavyweight colleague Richard Corbett in Yorks and Humber and preventing the election of the excellent Theresa Griffin in the North West. It is indeed a sad day for this country when racists gain elected office, and something on which we should all reflect.

In particular we need a considered analysis as to why the BNP have gained this foothold, and the steps we should take in future to regain the seats lost to them for the democratic political mainstream. Since I don’t believe the British people are basically racist and that the overwhelming majority of the voters are decent and fairminded, ousting the BNP by democratic means is definitely achievable. We should define our strategy sooner rather than later to prevent the racists and fascists gaining further momentum.

As well as Richard Corbett, sad farewells to Glyn Ford and Neena Gill. Both were good colleagues and will be sadly missed. It is unfortunate that elections are lost as well as won, and although all of us who put ourselves forward for elected office know that things will go down as well as up, it doesn’t make losing any easier. My sincere wishes for the future to Richard, Glyn and Neena. I’m sure all of us Labour MEPs fortunate enough to be returned to the European Parliament are thinking of you.

Just a final word about London. The Labour result in the capital was significantly better than most other parts of the country. My thanks to everyone who voted Labour, to Ken Clark, the London Labour Party Regional Director, all the staff at the London Labour Regional Office and to those many Labour Party members who worked so hard campaigning to return Labour MEPs. It may not have been a great result, but we can be proud in London that we bucked the national trend and maintained our share of the vote at virtually the same level as at the last European elections in 2004.


Labour Party
My fellow Labour candidates for the European elections Anne Fairweather and Emma Jones

My fellow Labour candidates for the European elections Anne Fairweather and Emma Jones

Easter Saturday saw me campaigning for the European elections in Lewisham.  The local Labour Party organised a street stall and, together with my fellow Euro candidates Emma Jones and Anne Fairweather and several local activists,  I handed out a newspaper style leaflet on Labour in Europe in the street market, a busy place even on a holiday weekend.  My thanks to Ken Clark and the London Labour Party for producing the literature, the second such leaflet we have had for the European elections on 4th June.  Thank you also to all the Labour Party members who organised the day.

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