Honeyball’s Weekly Round-Up

Labour Party

There were jubilant celebrations last night in the centre of Paris, as the socialist candidate François Hollande the Socialist candidate ousted incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy.

He became only the second incumbent in half a century to be booted out of the Elysée Palace. Hollande is the first socialist president in a generation, and for Sarkozy the defeat was perhaps made more humiliating as he became only the second incumbent in half a century o be booted out of the Elysée Palace.

Hollande has promised to ‘revive the French dream’. This meant, he said, “fairness to all,” new opportunities for “the young” and “better lives, from one generation to the next”.

This is an exciting time not just for France as it enters a new era of domestic politics but for all of us in Europe.

Hollande has a packed diary already and towards the end of June, He will attend an EU summit in Brussels in which he will discuss his refusal to accept harsh fiscal medicine to save the euro unless it is accompanied by ambitious, EU-wide investments funded by the European Central Bank.

His vision and ambition is clear. Today it is a new dawn in French politics. You can read full coverage here.

Greece also had elections over the weekend, and although it received less coverage it’s result will impact across Europe.

The exit polls suggested that the main parties would receive a drubbing from the electorate. And for the first time since the collapse of military rule, ultra-nationalists were also set to enter parliament with polls showing the neo-Nazi Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) capturing as much as 8%, The Guardian reported.

Elections are, of course, very important times- but they should also be fun. Yet the Guardian also revealed in its report a different story in this round of Greek elections. ‘Although elections are traditionally seen as a joyous affair, the pinnacle of democracy for a deeply politicised nation, volunteer lawyers working as election monitors in Athens reported voters as being in sombre mood. Many were said to have spent an “inordinately long time” in curtained-off booths before deciding which candidate to back.’

You can read the full article here.

It was a week of mixed emotions last week. On the one hand I was delighted that the Labour Party did so well in the local elections, and Ed Miliband was right to be cautious, telling supporters that there is still more work to do’. And we must not lose sight of this.

Nevertheless it was a good result and we should be encouraged by the result. You can read Patrick Wintour’s reflection on the local elections here.

I was, however, very sorry that Ken Livingstone has announced that he is to step out of politics and will not run again following a narrow defeat at last week’s elections. His final speech in City Hall was dignified and it is a great loss to London.

Labour is the only choice tomorrow

Labour Party

Tomorrow’s election for London Mayor will be a close run thing. It is therefore crucial to turn out to vote Labour. We in London deserve a break from Boris Johnson’s moonlighting. We need a mayor who will give the job his full attention. London has had enough of the Tory part-timer’s antics. It’s about time we had a mayor who put our – yours and my – concerns first.

This is what Ken Livingstone is saying:


Our Labour campaign is reaching out to Londoners in every part of the capital and from every background and political opinion who want a fairer deal. Residents in outer London have been betrayed, in many cases hit hardest by soaring fare rises and cuts to the police. I will put that right. You can see the manifesto here

I will cut fares by 7% this year and freeze them throughout 2013. Oyster single bus fares will be reduced from £1.35 to £1.20. From 2014 fares will not rise.

Boris Johnson has admitted cutting 1,700 police officers. If I am elected, I will reverse his cuts. And I will reinstate sergeants to all 600 Safer Neighbourhood Teams.

I will establish an all-London non-profit making lettings agency which, by cutting out Estate Agents’ profit, will help reduce rents and provide secure tenancies.

I will enable London households to save over £150 a year on energy bills through taking up money from energy companies for better insulation.

After the Tory-led government’s abolition of EMA I am committed to restoring a London-wide Educational Maintenance Allowance of up to £30 per week in term.

“I will help families with the upfront cost of childcare through offering grants of up to £700 to low income families and interest-free loans to families earning up to £40,000.

Deputy Mayor

Ken’s running mate Valerie Shawcross will make an excellent Deputy Mayor. GLA Member for Lambeth and Southwark and a former Leader of Croydon Council, Val has gained huge experience in London politics. Val and Ken are an outstanding team and fully deserve your vote.

Ken for London

Labour Party

Once again Ken Livingstone is showing us just why he should beLondon’s next Mayor. Ken has plans to benefit the vast majority of Londoners after the 2012 mayoral elections. We know Ken will deliver, just as he did during his previous eight years as Mayor when his achievements included the congestion charge, vastly improved bus services and road improvements, including Trafalgar Square, to name but a few.

I really enjoyed listening to Ken address a fundraising dinner organised by Putney Labour Party last Thursday. Ken spoke about his fairer fares campaign which will be a key plank of the Labour campaign in the Londonelection next year.

New figures confirm the positive impact of Ken’s pledge to cut the fares. While Boris Johnson is committed to year on year fare increases at two per cent above inflation for 20 years, Ken has pledged to cut fares and keep them lower than Boris Johnson’s plan.  A comparison of the effects of the two policies after four years confirms Londoners would not pay any fares after 8th November compared to Boris Johnson’s ‘high fare’ policy which would see Londoners pay fares to the end of the year.

Ken’s Fare Deal will, in fact, see the average Londoner saving £800.

It was also good to have the opportunity to chat to Ken during the dinner. Livingstone conversations are always interesting and sometimes unexpected. I never thought that the Putney dinner would lead to an exponential increase in my knowledge of garden compost, worms and associated matters. Ken has seemingly moved on from small reptiles to small invertebrates, aiding the environment in the process.

A very pleasant evening ended on a high note when Rex Osborn arrived at the dinner late and sat next to me. Rex, now leader of the Labour Group on Wandsworth Council, is a very old friend. We once shared an office in County Hall when working on the campaign to save the GLC. I hadn’t seen Rex for a long time and it was great to meet up again.

I was also pleased to see Leonie Cooper, another person I have known for a long time. Leonie is the GLA candidate for Merton and Wandsworth who is fighting a cracking campaign. We all wish her the very best.

So all in all an excellent dinner. My thanks as ever to Putney Labour Party, Councillor Peter Carpenter, former Party Chair, Hans Pauley, the current Chair, Sean Lawless who organised the event, Tony Belton and Penny Corfield plus the seventy other guests who all contributed to making the evening such a resounding success.

Ken Livingstone Fundraiser at the Globe Theatre

Labour Party
It’s not so often that we get a star-studded event in the Labour Party. True to form Ken Livingstone came to the rescue yesterday with a gala dinner to rival all others, not just a a fundraiser, more a gathering of the Labour glitterati.
So who was there? Labour Leader Ed Miliband, of course, Richard Wilson aka Victor Meldrew, Ken himself and his running mate in the London Mayoral election, my old friend Val Shawcross, not to mention former Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell.  All the Labour GLA Members were also present as was Andrew Dismore who I am supporting to be Labour’s GLA candidate in Camden and Barnet. There were others too. You will see me pictured above with the recently ennobled  Roy Kennedy and Labour Party Deputy General Secretary Alicia Kennedy and below with Ken and Nicky Gavron.  I was also pleased to catch up with Tribune owner Kevin McGrath.
It would be remiss not to mention Ealing MP Stephen Pound who did the auction, raising a considerable sum  of money. Stephen is in great demand  for his skills as an auctioneer, and was at his best raising money for Ken Livingstone’s for Mayor.
The Globe Theatre in Southwark was an excellent venue, radiant as it is with Shakespeare and Elizabethan memorabilia, a fitting place indeed for a London event, the event which launched Labour’s campaign to return a Labour Mayor in our great city. My thanks as ever to all those who organised the event and made it such a great evening. 

Ed Miliband at Labour Party Conference

Labour Party

Here’s the third and last of the videos from the London Labour Party reception at Labour’s Conference in Manchester earlier this year. Ken Livingstone is available here, and Harriet Harman here. After the formal announcement of the Leadership election result Ed was due to speak at the London Labour Party reception. Hundreds of people piled into the room in anticipation. The demands of the media meant that Ed was diverted to do interviews.

The room eased a little, but as soon as Ed arrived after a little delay the room was the place to be. The fervour at the beginning of the meeting shows how keenly Ed’s speech was anticipated. The video is just over 6 minutes long and covers, Ken, Harriet and London of course.

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.

Andrew McIntosh

Labour Party

It is with some trepidation that I write about Andrew McIntosh, Labour peer and member of the Greater London Council, who died at the end of August.  He achieved much during his time in public life and will, I believe, be remembered as a leading light in London Labour politics.

 One of his less remembered but important contributions was his work on the 2005 Gambling Act in his capacity as a Minister in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

 John Carr, one of Andrew’s GLC colleagues,  writes about this in today’s Guardian. Andrew was, in fact, very successful in this matter. Since the legislation became operative, children’s organisations are not aware of a single instance where a child has managed to evade the system.     

 I first met Andrew when I worked at County Hall in the late 1970s. I remember him as a friendly and approachable GLC Member, even though at the time we were in different Labour Party camps.  Then, as now, I was on the side of Ken Livingstone and supported Ken on the London Labour Party Executive where I was a member for much of the 1980s.     

 After Ken Livingstone became Leader of the Greater London in 1981, Andrew went on to serve in the House of Lords for nearly 30 years. He was Labour frontbench spokesperson variously on education, industry and the environment, rising to be deputy leader of the opposition in the Lords (1992-97). After 1997 Andrew became deputy chief whip in the Lords, speaking for those many departments with no Lords minister of their own until, in 2005, he gained ministerial office in the DCMS.

 Of particular interest to me as an MEP is the fact that Andrew was a member of the Council of Europe parliamentary assembly from 2005 and chair of its education and media subcommittee from 2008 until his death. He was very well regarded, a formidable chair, and in January 2007 the Council appointed him its rapporteur on media freedom. He also worked to advance the Bologna Process, designed to ease the movement of university students and staff around Europe, something I deal with in my role on the European Parliament Culture and Education Committee.

He was, in addition, an honorary associate of the National Secular Society, a distinguished supporter of the British Humanist Association and a vice-chair of the all-party parliamentary humanist group.

Why I’m supporting Ken Livingstone

Labour Party

Ballot papers to select Labour’s candidate for London Mayor will be dispatched next week. Ken or Oona: our previous, successful Mayor or the lively, personable former MP?

It’s a hard choice, but one Labour Party members have to make. I have come to my decision. It quite simply has to be Ken.

As a feminist and a longstanding campaigner for more women in public life, I would dearly like to support a female candidate, this would be my natural choice and what people would expect me to do. I find it a real shame that there is no woman standing as Labour Mayoral candidate who has the right experience.

However, I have decided to support Ken as he is the candidate with a proven track record in running London with the ability to deliver in the future.

Yet I would never claim that Ken has no warts. But I am supporting him ‘warts and all.’

I first came across Ken Livingstone in the 1970s when he was a new Member of the GLC and I was an employee. I later worked on the campaign to save the GLC from abolition by Margaret Thatcher. During the last 10 years as a Labour MEP I have, of course, had dealings with the Labour Mayor of London.

I did not always find it easy dealing with City Hall when Ken was in charge. Since his staff were not from the same political wing of the Labour Party as me, co-operation was not always forthcoming and I was, on occasion, obviously omitted from women’s events where I, as Labour Spokesperson on Women’s Rights in the European Parliament, would have been an obvious choice.

It must be said, both Ken and Oona are experienced politicians who both have considerable experience of political campaigns. However, the selection we as members make must be based on the person who has the highest level of experience, who can deliver for Londoners and who will be the strongest opponent that Boris can face. That candidate is Ken Livingstone.

Livingstone had a truly daunting task as the first elected Mayor of London and he rose to the challenge. When he left office he left many accolades: the congestion charge, the opening up of Trafalgar Square, the improvements at Vauxhall Cross, the London low emission zone – the list goes on. As the one-time Leader of the Greater London Council who introduced “Fares Fair” on the Underground, Ken understood how to get things done.

Ken has done it once and will do it again.

Although he is the candidate better suited to run London this by no means detracts from Oona King. Oona is intelligent and hardworking, and she was an excellent MP for Bethnal Green and Bow. I remember canvassing with her during the 2005 general election campaign when her popularity was evident and her knowledge of her constituents second to none. I would like to see Oona back in the House of Commons where I am sure she would carve out a successful career.

Politically I am closer to Oona King than left- wing ‘Red Ken’. But I believe it would be a mistake to elect the Mayoral candidate on the basis of political philosophy alone. Too often in the Labour Party we choose our representatives and leaders for what they say rather than what they can actually do.

As a London representative, I understand that what a challenge running London is and how important it is to deliver for the people of our city.

I am aware that Ken is not perfect. He is, however, our only realistic choice.

Appearance on Ken Livingstone’s Programme on LBC

Labour Party

Just to say I am due to be interviewed by Ken Livingstone on his programme on LBC this morning.  Ken will talk to me about the petition calling for the Metropolitan Police to keep their specialist unit dedicated to combatting human trafficking which I presented to the Metropolitan Police Authority on Thursday.

It is good that Ken has picked up on the trafficking issue and realised just how important it is.  This kind of publicity very much helps to raise the profile of the campaign to end this vile trade in vulnerable people.