Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Red Ken and the trots

With the current selection of right-wing newspapers queueing up to attack him it must be just like the 1980's for Ken Livingstone, though the quality of the accusations (he drinks whisky! he talks to muslims! he works with evil communist dictators to make it cheap for scroungers to get the bus! he pays people money to work for him and give him advice! he uses oyster cards to track our every movement!) make it clear that it is most definitely a case of 'this time as farce'.

The very silliest accusation of the lot (just beating out the Evening Standard's survey, not of a sample of Londoners, but of 'influential people') is the one about the idea that there are a sinister group of Trotskyist infiltrators running London. There are some highly paid, and from all accounts well qualified, bureaucrats in senior jobs in the GLA, sure, and many of them are members of Socialist Action, but you would have to be terminally dim and/or the editor of the New Statesman to confuse these with proper Trotskyists, whatever they choose to call themselves in between working with the City of London to get capitalists to invest in London.

By way of explanation, here is a proper Trotskyist analysis of Ken Livingstone's career. For proper Trotskyists, Ken Livingstone has been a sell out for many, many years, even as the misguided majority called him 'Red Ken'. He broke with the 'class struggle left' in 1981 and from 1982 pioneered 'Rainbow Coalition politics' 'as advocated by the right-wing Stalinists in Marxism Today'. By 1986 he was supporting the right-wing candidate in the NUS, and by 1987 he is being selected as an MP with the support of the right wing (the left, apparently, supported Diane Abbott, so well done them). His campaign in 2000 was a right-wing media-based one, and as Mayor he has been a scab and opposed the anti-globalisation protesters.

The one good thing that all of this nonsense and shrieking from all sides can do is to end any complacency that Ken will win again without any trouble. Even the Tories are reluctant to make the argument that Boris Johnson would be a brilliant mayor (the line appears to be 'yes we know Boris wouldn't be able to do the job, but at least we would have got rid of that evil communist who makes us pay for driving our cars'). I take it as self-evident that anyone who is actually interested in what happens to people in London, particularly those who aren't part of the wealthy elite, will want to help make sure that Ken Livingstone gets re-elected. If so, you can sign up at


At 10:18 pm , Anonymous Daniel said...

why are you defining worker's liberty as proper trotskyists?

At 2:56 pm , Blogger Mike said...

Err, have a look around the left. There's not much choice...


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