Ken Livingstone Shows His True Colours

M A Jones jones118 at
Sat May 6 18:31:14 MDT 2000

Lou wrote:

> I think Livingstone's rabid support for Nato's war against Yugoslavia
> indicated
> that he was a problematic candidate to say the least.

When Ken was still making his way in local govt, before his sudden ascent to
be Leader of the Greater London Council (equivalent to being mayor, except
that in those days the GLC had enormous powers and budget) he edited a
newspaper called Labour Herald, together with Ted Knight, then leader
I'm not so much into the messy and twisted-up entrails of Trotskyism
as some folks on this list so I really don't know, or remember, or care
about Knight's provenance, but no doubt Paul Flewers or someone
will know the EXACT details).

The Labour Party trot/ultra left was an extraordinarily self-obsessed,
involuted kind of thing. They had very limited horizons; they were fanatical
committee men, and women, and they lived for the greasy-pole politics of
Labour's sectarian-municipal left. They were mostly quite unpleasant
people  and from their obsessions, malice and spite sprang the
well-deserved reputation of the loony-left. Anyway, to cut a long story
short, I got the job of writing for the Labour Herald
on foreign affairs. This was because, as Ken put it to me, 'none of our lot
really knows anything about it' (ie, history, except the history of their
little sects; of the outside world they knew nothing).

Even in those days I was what people sometimes call a stalinist.
I never hid my colours; I used to write very long
articles about Soviet history, the Cold War etc, and the Healy-financed
Labour Herald published them as big centre-spreads without editing or
cavilling. Obviously they never read what I wrote, altho' I know Ken did
because once he slapped me on the back and told me how much he'd learnt from
something I wrote about the genesis of the United Nations Organisation, the
1944 san francisco talks etc. This was in 1983, or thereabouts. Others who
DID read my stuff included the London Pravda man (later expelled for being a
KGB spy), and soon I got offered the chance to travel in the USSR, which I
grabbed. I was happy to leave. I didn't give a single shit about the fate
of the Labour left, or indeed the Labour Party, any more than
the Healyites gave a flying fuck about
anything which went on south of Calais. This terminated my contacts with
Ken. However, I can say that he did not strike me as a rabid opportunist.
Let's face it, anyone who is prepared to stand up in an election
campaign for mayor of one of the world's financial capital's and
declare that US-led modern capitalism is more lethal than Hitler germany
is not just out for himself and he is is gonna get my vote. No, Ken is
not an opportunist, he is just untutored. Remember, Kosovo is a REALLY long
way from Calais. I always warmed to him, not just because he is genuinely
warm and charismatic; he simply is not a mindless sectarian shit; but he
knows how to maximise, optimise and satisfice his various constituencies. He
WILL make a big difference to British politics; he will push it to the left,
he will fight his corner, and I will go and opportunistically remind him of
our former acquaintance and tell him he was quite, quite wrong wbout Kosovo.
I'm sure he will agree and when he relaunches the Labour Herald my first
article about events on Le Continent will be about how Milosoevic is the
Castro of the Balkans. He'll publish it, and the fact that HIS first piece
about Le Continent will be about his favourite brasserie in Brussels, won't
change a thing.

As for the loony left, he is well shot of them, including especially the
British SWP, the "CPGB", the CPB, the SLP, and the whole gang of 'em.

Mark Jones

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