Ken Livingstone: I didn't vote Labour at three general elections

My colleague Dan Hodges has a tape of the latest Ken outburst – they’re coming thick and fast now – in which the great statesman suggests that Tony Blair should be prosecuted for war crimes. Ken “opposed the war in Iraq,” you see. More on that later.

Equally interesting, however, was the following: “The gentleman asked what’s wrong with 13 years of New Labour? I never voted for New Labour. I never voted for Tony Blair and I stood against his awful government.”

Ken appears to be saying that he did not vote Labour in the 1997, 2001 or 2005 general elections, when New Labour was firmly what was on offer and Tony Blair was firmly the party leader. That’s pretty remarkable, given that in 1997 Ken was a Labour MP and that in 2005 he was the Labour mayor of London. I’m fairly sure I voted for Blair in 1997 and 2001 – so over the course of the last government, I may have voted Labour more than Ken did!

It wouldn’t, of course, be the only time that Ken has let the Labour Party down. Last year, without even the excuse of Blair, he helped sabotage Labour’s mayoral election campaign in Tower Hamlets, campaigning against the official Labour candidate and for the independent, Lutfur Rahman, expelled from Labour for his links with Islamic extremism.

Part of the reason Ken’s campaign to be re-elected mayor is doing so badly is that many Labour members won’t work for him, hating the way he demands loyalty but fails to give loyalty in return.


PS: For the true depth of Ken’s “opposition” to the war in Iraq, I recommend a read of his memoirs – which I’m struggling slowly through at the moment. He opposed the war and Blair so firmly that in late June or early July 2003, at the exact moment when the sexed-up dossier scandal and David Kelly affair were breaking, he privately agreed with Blair’s political secretary, Sally Morgan, to rejoin the Labour Party. (See page 486 of the book.)

He actually rejoined in January 2004, at the precise moment that Iraq was falling apart and the Hutton inquiry brought Blair and Labour to their lowest ebbs. At a time when virtually everyone else in the party was thinking about leaving – and thousands did leave – Ken, probably alone in Britain, was going the other way and ensuring that Labour would win at least one election that year. “Standing against Blair’s awful government?” I think not.

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