We can, and must, do better than this to beat Boris

August 14, 2010 6:32 pm

Ken and OonaBy Mark Ferguson / @markfergusonuk

It must be exasperating to be a Labour mayoral candidate right now.

Everyone is cheering for their chosen candidate. But they are also ignoring the fact that, in the form of London Mayor, Labour is fighting for the second largest individual mandate in Europe (after the French Presidency).

If held at another time, perhaps the selection race would have been more notable. Maybe Labour could have expressed an innovative take on transport policy, to challenge the bizarre publicity surrounding the Boris bike, or even a groundbreaking scheme to tackle inner-London’s gang culture and associated gun and knife crime.

As it happens, the stand out moments have been a little more predictable and unedifying. What is there here to draw new people into politics? We are better than this. These candidates are better than this. Labour in London is so, so much better than this.

It’s especially disappointing to see spats when, by and large, they don’t reflect the wider mood on the party. There is little desire for division in the party, as evidenced by the relatively civil nature of the leadership contest. Our party is broadly united and focused on the task in hand – opposing the debilitating Tory cuts and ensuring that we get back into power sooner rather than later.

Maybe both candidates are plagued by the past. Ken does not seem to have moved on enough from his last unsuccessful tussle with Boris Johnson, whilst Oona King’s record as someone who lost a safe inner London seat to a minor party has largely been glossed over. This campaign should be about bigger and better things, a practice run for taking back Number 10 in 2015. Neither candidate should play the old favourites and hope that the audience likes it better this time.

Boris Johnson has established his election tactics already – mainly his bikes – nearly two years before he’ll need to deploy them. Ken and Oona shouldn’t play each other down. Neither campaign has been bold (or foolish) enough to make criticisms in stark terms, but some have certainly been inferred.

Instead, we need more developed attacks, such as those that the Tories will launch on whoever our candidate when the time comes. Both candidates are capable. The Labour Party is strong. We should make more of all our strengths.

Comments are closed

Latest

  • Comment One Nation Conference? Not for poor Labour members

    One Nation Conference? Not for poor Labour members

    Full time Carers who care 35 hours + a week for a disabled or elderly relative receive the princely sum of £61.35pw for their efforts. Many carers like myself in reality care 24/7, 365 days a year. Already cut out of most activities like a meal out or a social evening with friends, our horizons under the Tory government have become narrower and narrower. As Labour Party members, many of us look to the party to get our voices heard, […]

    Read more →
  • Featured My visit to Israel and Palestine this week has strengthened my commitment to a two state solution

    My visit to Israel and Palestine this week has strengthened my commitment to a two state solution

    Since Operation Protective Edge began in early July, at least 1,360 Palestinians have been killed, mostly civilians, and a quarter of Gaza’s population has been forced from their homes. Two Israeli civilians have lost their lives in rocket attacks, several hundred have been injured, and 56 Israeli soldiers have been killed. Today, the latest appalling loss of life is yet another tragic example of the death and destruction that has resulted from the escalation of this conflict. Of course this […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Grayling gives speech attacking Labour while his own department publish his failings

    Grayling gives speech attacking Labour while his own department publish his failings

    You know that a Cabinet Minister’s speech has no positive message when the Tory Press Office Twitter account bothers to livetweet it.And that’s exactly what happened with Justice Secretary Chris Grayling’s attack on Labour spending plans this morning. No, we don’t they got him to do it either. The speech itself was standard fare: lots of attacks on trade unions dressed up as economic commentary. What was interesting was that while he was giving it, the Ministry of Justice released […]

    Read more →
  • Comment I do not have a vote in the referendum, but I do have a voice

    I do not have a vote in the referendum, but I do have a voice

    For me, the debate about why Scotland should remain part of the United Kingdom is personal and emotive – but is also about hard facts. We are tied together by bonds of friendship, family and economy in so many ways. My family history – going back some 300 years – is Northern Irish, Scottish, English and Welsh. I was born and brought up in Wales by a Cumbrian mother and a Wiltshire father. I went to university in England, and […]

    Read more →
  • News Seats and Selections Miliband’s greatest quality is that he’s willing to have a “bloody good think”, says Dobson

    Miliband’s greatest quality is that he’s willing to have a “bloody good think”, says Dobson

    Last week, Frank Dobson announced his intention to stand down as MP for Holborn and St Pancras after 35 years. Today, The Guardian have a candid and, at times, touching interview with the former Health Secretary. In a wide-ranging conversation with Owen Jones, Dobson sounds optimistic about the current state of the Labour Party: he’s “very confident” Labour will win next year’s election and is pleased that the Party has avoided going “a bit 1979″. Ed Miliband has ensured that […]

    Read more →