Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Give a man a shovel

... And he just keeps digging. Ken Livingstone was elected mayor of London in 2000 as a kick in the nuts to the government, particularly over the part-privatisation of the London Underground. The move went ahead, Ken not only knuckled under but adopted an anti-union agenda, in particular baiting and collaborating against the RMT.

His time in office has seen other smooth moves, such as backing Ian Blair over the murder of Jean Charles De Menezes and bending the knee to the City of London. There are small mercies, like his not too bad anti-war stance, his promotion of anti-racism, or inviting Hugo Chavez to London. Even then there's always a "yeah, but" to add. For example, yeah, but he did shut Hugo away in Camden Town Hall instead of booking Trafalgar Square (so jealously guarded by his Heritage Wardens) to let the wider public hear him.

Support for Ken Livingstone has collapsed in the run-up to the mayoral elections. I suppose some might be surprised, we should not be. But, what has been his response?

I will steal Boris's ideas...

The frontpage story on tonight's Evening Standard. He has said he will adopt Boris Johnson's ideas on tackling youth crime, taking up the fearful anti-youth agenda and running with it instead of countering it. I suppose he's in too weak a position to do so, having rejoined the Labour Party and campaigned for its agenda and people. What other of Boris's spiffing ideas will he take on board if reelected, smashing the RMT in London perhaps?

If Ken has no distinctive ideas of his own why does he need to stand? More importantly, what do we do about it? In modern politics there is consistent pressure to head right. This is because there is only one, consistent, unrivalled hegemony: neo-liberal capitalism. Direct class struggle can create a counter-hegemony that forces the agenda back. The anti-war movement, an indirect form of struggle, started that shift in 2003. The argument about where now for the movement can be chewed over later. Everyone can agree, though, that it is not what it was (in the simplest sense of the term).

The fight-back starts with clawing together an alternative political organisation that can give voice to left-wing ideas and start intervening in mainstream politics. The best intervention in the upcoming London elections is the Left List. Do not just give it your vote (you have two votes, use your second to block Boris Johnson), give it your active support.

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