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 Let’s meet London’s housing need

    Let’s meet London’s housing need

    Meeting London’s housing need – it sounds like a simple idea, but it hasn’t happened for decades. If there is one aim politicians of all parties should meet over the next 5 years, this must be it. It is the single biggest thing we can do to improve the lives of ordinary Londoners. And with political will, a good plan and leadership, it’s possible. As any Londoner knows, London is in the middle of a desperate housing crisis. Young Londoners […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Miliband announces plans to scrap the Lords – and introduce an elected Senate of Nations and Regions

    Miliband announces plans to scrap the Lords – and introduce an elected Senate of Nations and Regions

    In a speech to Labour’s North West regional conference in Manchester, Ed Miliband will announce that a Labour government would abolish the House of Lords and replace it with an elected Senate. That has (broadly speaking) been Labour policy for some time. But there’s a twist. Miliband wants this new Senate to be a representative body made up of those from all of Britain’s Nations and Regions, as part of a new constitutional settlement to be decided by a constitutional […]

    Read more →
  • News Miliband speaks out on anti-semitic abuse targeted at Luciana Berger – and calls on social media companies to act

    Miliband speaks out on anti-semitic abuse targeted at Luciana Berger – and calls on social media companies to act

    As we reported last week, Labour MP and Shadow Minister Luciana Berger has been the victim of a sustained torrent of disgusting online anti-semtic abuse. Ed Miliband has hit out at Berger’s abusers today, calling on social media companies to be more proactive in tackling sustained, orchestrated abuse. He told Jewish News: “The anti-Semitic abuse that Luciana Berger has experienced over recent days is utterly appalling and has absolutely no place in our country. We must have no tolerance for this vile […]

    Read more →
  • Comment The debate about building ‘the homes we need’ has to go beyond numbers

    The debate about building ‘the homes we need’ has to go beyond numbers

    Big numbers abound in housing debates and rightly so. Two-hundred thousand new homes – the number the Labour frontbench has committed to building annually – is a response to the housing crisis that is starting to approach the scale we need. But the debate about building ‘the homes we need’ has to go beyond numbers. To make the point, look at the extreme case of ‘buy-to-leave’ homes that are bought off-plan as investors’ latest fancy and sit there empty in […]

    Read more →
  • Comment The mansion tax is a progressive tax and Labour in London should support it

    The mansion tax is a progressive tax and Labour in London should support it

    For those of us who believe in progressive taxation the last few weeks in London Labour have been pretty dismal. We seem to have an array of Labour MPs (mainly wannabe London mayoral candidates) and council leaders rushing to the press denouncing the proposed mansion tax as a’ tax on London’ (or if they were more honest a tax on the rich parts of London). Yes the promotion of the Mansion Tax has been inept and it would more accurate […]

    Read more →