more on road-rage Ken

M A Jones jones118 at
Thu May 25 02:00:35 MDT 2000

This is apropos of James Tait's postings about Ken (to whom I should
apologise for being insulting the other day).

It may be true that Ken is in the pockets of City finance types (it isn't).
But the important fact is how he is perceived and why on the basis of those
popular perceptions, he was elected with such a huge plurality despite the
vigorous opposition of all the major parties: during his election campaign
whenever he appeared on round table TV talks, for instance, what happened
was that the Labour, Liberal and Tory candidates spent the whole time
slagging Ken off and tryiong to bury him in one common stream of vitriol and
anti-red hysteria. This unpleasant spectacle was repeated time after time
amid a rising choris of Tory-tablod red-baiting and vicious smears.

Actually, to argue the way 'Red-Rebel' does is objectively to do the same
thing, ie, to take your cue from the Daily Telegraph, the Times and the
Tories, and do everything you can to deepen public disillusion with the
political process. Is there some kind of collusion between the 0.006% S+T
tendency, and the far right, to destroy the public spaces of bourgeois
democracy? If so, then they are welcome to each other, but one is forced to
wonder what's in it for the S+T tendency; at least wealthy people have an
obvious reason (self-interest) to do what they do, but to bash Ken if you
are poor, black, unemployed, don't own a car, or are a self-confessed
socialist of some kind is, well, lunacy actually. Certifiable.

Mark Jones

Guardian: Road charges are crucial, mayor tells assembly

Mayor calls road charges at top of assembly agenda

Special report: Livingstone's London

Seumas Milne
Thursday May 25, 2000

Ken Livingstone yesterday declared congestion charging the make-or-break
issue for his London mayorship, as defeated Liberal Democrat mayoral
candidate Susan Kramer accepted a job in his administration and Industrial
Society director Will Hutton agreed to report on the tube funding
Facing his first Greater London assembly question time as mayor, Mr
Livingstone said that "getting the congestion charge right" was the single
biggest issue facing London's new government.

Although the first of what will be monthly sessions was billed as a
grilling, the man Tony Blair warned would be a "disaster for London" exuded
benign consensus and dominated proceedings effortlessly. Continuing to
deploy his powers of patronage to draw potential critics into his
administration and put opponents on the back foot, the mayor used his report
to assembly members to announce the appointment of Ms Kramer to the board of
Transport for London, which will oversee bus, tube and train services from

He also revealed that Mr Hutton, former editor of the Observer and a
consistent critic of the government's use of private finance initiative
schemes in the public services, will head the planned inquiry into the
relative merits of John Prescott's and his own rival proposals for funding
tube modernisation.

Mr Hutton will take the place of journalist and rail expert Simon Jenkins,
and report in September on whether the government's public-private
partnership or Mr Livingstone's bond-financed public sector scheme offers
Londoners a better deal.

Throughout the two-hour meeting in a church hall in Westminster, Mr
Livingstone exchanged quips with Labour GLA chair Trevor Phillips, while
continually emphasising the common ground with government ministers and
between the assembly's political groups.

After listening to his explanations about early budgetary decisions, Tory
GLA member Elizabeth Howlett told the mayor: "That all seems terribly

"That's me," replied Mr Livingstone, to widespread laughter from members of
the public and GLA workers listening to the debate.

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