Break out the nose pegs and vote for Livingstone

by David Talbot

You would be forgiven for thinking that the only segment of the United Kingdom that is to vote this May is London. But on May 3rd elections will take place in 180 councils across the country, with 5000 seats up for grabs. Over the Easter break I duly volunteered to distribute leaflets in my home CLP back in rural Warwickshire. Amidst the endless open countryside, hamlets and villages I could not have been more removed from the hectic London political scene.

Until, that is, I stopped in the hamlet of Ardens Grafton and frequented the sole shop. A picture of Ken Livingstone weeping greeted me as I picked up the front page of the Guardian. Much has been said about the authenticity, or not, of the performance since. But with accompanying prose underneath the picture spilling over to page two, and a double-page spread adjoining pages seven and eight, it confirmed, if nothing else, just quite how London-centric our media is. It also focused the mind on the London mayoral election ahead – and what those with serious doubts about Livingstone should do come that Thursday in early May.

I am seemingly in a large rump of Labour voters who do not view Ken Livingstone favourably. YouGov put the figure at 31%, ComRes 17%. In a tight election these numbers are more than enough to secure significant defeat for the Labour candidate.

The charge sheet against Ken Livingstone has been heavily trailed in recent weeks. Commentators ranging from Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian, Philip Collins in the Times, Nick Cohen in the Observer and, more troublingly, the Jewish Chronicle have voiced serious concerns about our candidate. Coupled with the usual antagonists; Andrew Gilligan in the Telegraph is his usual obsessed self, and the Evening Standard, who have effortlessly slipped back to where they left off in 2008; vast swathes of the media, and ordinary Labour members, are, to put it politely, at best lukewarm about Livingstone.

Ken Livingstone is the problem of this campaign. To pretend otherwise is to, wilfully, miss the point. At a time when Labour has opened up the biggest lead over the Tories since the aftermath of the general election, Livingstone is trailing the London Labour vote by 6%, whilst Boris Johnson is outperforming the Tories in the capital by 10%.

In a contest where the two main combatants have deliberately made it presidential, with all the narcissism that entails, Johnson has clearly won this key battle.

Livingstone doesn’t deserve the automatic support of Labour members, let alone the wider left, just because he is the main challenger to Johnson. Rather than deriding us doubters, he and his team should seek to understand why such a significant number of otherwise loyal Labour party members and voters can’t bring themselves to support his fight. Appeals to toe the line are, ironically, displays of machine politics that used to be levelled so critically against the Blairite right.

The myriad of accusations levelled against Livingstone are serious, and as a party they deserve our consideration.

And yet, what is ultimately so disappointing is that Livingstone’s policy platform is basically sound. The pledge to cut transport fares, to restore EMA, to focus on London’s housing and many more beside are ones that all Londoners should be able to rally around.

Johnson will win if most of his voters turn out and Labour’s don’t. His low, policy-free, populist campaign shows exactly what kind of administration he would run if re-elected. Voting Labour, and by extension for Livingstone, is the only way to keep Johnson out. Those who think they can’t vote Labour should think again. There is nothing moral about letting Johnson win: consciences that forbid a Labour vote because of Livingstone should consider the consequences.

So, in the spirit of Polly Toynbee’s 2005 campaign, the nose peg is coming out. Toynbee offered a free nose peg to any reluctant Labour voter who went to the polls because they knew it’s what they must do. If the nose pegs aren’t enough for the hardened few, dig out the smelling salts, take a glug of brandy and head to the polls.

It’s not a game. The people who always, without fail, get hit hardest by Conservative administrations are the powerless, the weakest, the voiceless – and they may not even vote. Boris Johnson’s priorities are not my priorities.

On 3rd May, with my nose peg on, I’ll vote for Ken Livingstone.

David Talbot is a political consultant

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14 Responses to “Break out the nose pegs and vote for Livingstone”

  1. Nick says:

    So which other tax avoiders are you going to support?

    Why did Ken include the tax his company paid, but not include the income as the same time? Ah yes, one is the denominator, and the other the numerator, and by picking the numbers in that way it made it look like he was paying a higher percentage of tax.

    If you can’t trust him on that, then the same applies to the rest of his campaign.

    eg. Cutting fares. What’s his track record? Cuts and then he goes and raises it again.

    This is the basic problem. You are asking us to vote for the unacceptable candidate. We can’t get rid of a scumbag like Ken and get the policies we want.

    The reason is that you won’t let us vote on issues. We have to vote instead for scumbags, and trust they will be honest. Which on the evidence, isn’t the case.

  2. Erica Blair says:

    ‘Commentators ranging from Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian, Philip Collins in the Times, Nick Cohen in the Observer and, more troublingly, the Jewish Chronicle have voiced serious concerns about our candidate. ‘

    Why should the opinions of any of these individuals matter a damn?


    The JC has been hosting a blog written by the BNP candidate – a cover-up is in full swing.

  3. Anon E Mouse says:

    Erica Blair – “Why should the opinions of any of these individuals matter a damn?”

    Just shows how far out of touch Labour supporters have become.

    Come back Tony Blair – he knew how to win elections and sooner useless candidates like Brown (admittedly never elected by the Labour Party) or Miliband (admittedly never elected by the Labour Party members or PLP) are dumped the better.

    As for Livingston he has no business in the party let alone representing it at any type of election and the members should demand his immediate removal from the party.

    If Labour seriously think that supporting a man with his views will win support for the party required to win a General Election they are seriously mistaken…

  4. john P Reid says:

    Fair enough will do, but if Ken loses, it’ll be ‘ah the Blairites (Tessa Jowell, Denis Mcshane, Stehpen Pound Excluded) wanted me to lose’, ‘Boris and Blair are Friends ‘ (depite Blair twice trying to Sue Boris over libelous comments like “Blair tried to cash in on the Queen mum’s funeral”) ~ Blair wanted boris to win etc,

    Ken said he lost last time becase laobur was unpopular, depsite getting 305,000 more votes the time he lost than won, And If boris wins it’ll be not becasue people thinks hes done a good job ,but becuase everyone else cant stand Ken, And Labour’s ahead in the polls ,so Ken CAn’t blame national trends/

  5. madasafish says:

    Sorry but on this basis , you could justify voting for anyone..

    And to claim that Johnson is “policy free” and then say “Boris Johnson’s priorities are not my priorities.” is a contradiction in terms..

  6. NotKenAgain says:

    Best argument I have heard yet
    Livingstone is a turd, wear a peg and vote for him
    He is a seriously flawed character and to have him foisted on London is an affront to peoples common sense & pocket
    Vote for anyone but Ken

  7. Clr Ralph Baldwin says:

    Double-standards, a corrupt attitude towards society treating process and the Rule of Law with contempt, I would say Ken has finally showed his true colors and they are Red with a golden sickle. Filling his pockets before any or all considerations as have so many less than average politicians in the Labour party over the past three years. The tide has changed it’s flowing out, exposing the truth of what and why the Labour party has become the foul mess it now is today.

    No longer the party of representation, cheap transparent and empty rhetoric, clumsy language, arrogance, and most of all complete stupidity operating as a feudal mafia well passed it’s sell-by date.

    All those years i foolishly believed the speeches about defending people, creating opportunities, fairness and equality and in the end the sum total conclusion: untalented strange people who garble their own weird language of “unemployable” creating jobs at the top of what is supposed to be a professional outfit with the responsibility of Governing a powerful country for their brothers and sisters wives and husbands and embarrassing themselves continually on TV. Cool empty people devoid of humanity, experience and depth of character in cabal of making value based decisions.

    I am truly well rid.

    Ken is just yet another symptom of the disease and the boost in the polls is merely the mid-term build up for a protest vote and wherever and whenever possible the British people will turn to any viable alternative that is not Labour.

  8. Rob Marchant says:

    @EricaBlair: Utter tosh. As the JC’s editor, Stephen Pollard, tweeted today: Just to clear up the lies: “JC had open access blogging. We were alerted a BNP member had set one up. We barred him.” End of.

    Since when have the JC been run by fascists? Extraordinarily dumb to accuse a paper of that.

  9. Clr Ralph Baldwin says:

    Rob don’t worry this will not be taken very seriously. The JC is fine mate.

  10. Erica Blair says:


    As for ‘tosh’, where did I accuse the JC of being run by fascists – can’t you read? Or is it a Freudian slip on your part – perhaps based on your personal knowledge of Stephen Pollard’s Likudnik politics?

    What’s revealing is that nothing the BNP candidate wrote on his JC-hosted blog was in any way objectionable to the editor. I wonder why not.

    As for clearing up lies, this is what Pollard tweeted earlier

    Anti-Israel liars claiming we ‘host’ BNP blogger. We don’t. We blocked him. They lie about Israel. They lie about @JewishChron Stephen Pollard (@stephenpollard) April 18, 2012

    They did ‘host’ a BNP blogger – he wasn’t ‘blocked he was published by the JC for months until his posts were belatedly removed, so who is the liar now?

  11. madasafish says:

    Lord Sugar has tweeted what he thinks of Ken for Mayor.. He recommends no-one vote for him…

  12. BenM says:

    “Lord Sugar has tweeted what he thinks of Ken for Mayor.. He recommends no-one vote for him…”

    Gosh! I must rush out and do whatever Lord Sugar tells me to do…!

  13. Alex says:

    You sure you physically visited Ardens Grafton? I am a resident and there is NO SHOP

  14. David Talbot says:


    Ardens Grafton, Temple Grafton, Stratford upon Avon – maybe I just made it up?

    Check who your Labour candidate is today though for verification of my presence in Ardens Grafton..

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