I have a confession to make! I joined Labour in 2002. I helped in the 2004 and 2008 London Mayoral elections. This time I deliberately stayed away.
I stayed away because whilst I did not want Boris Johnson to win, I could not in conscience, openly support Ken Livingstone. I am also loyal to Labour so I decided the best thing to do was to keep quiet and hope Labour did well in London generally.
The reason? Well I wonder if I need to give one, but I have little respect for a candidate who demands loyalty, yet support non Labour candidates! Who does not make swift rebuttals to fair criticism from respected journalists (if untrue that is and I happen to have a lot of time for Jonathan Freedland), who is arrogant enough not to go out of his way to reassure minorities outside his own constituent base, who seems to fail to learn from lessons made from a previous defeat, then there are the questions regarding tax, and so on and so on.. For the first time, to my dismay, I felt a regard for those who are tempted to stay at home on Polling Day and if any good comes out of this for me, maybe it will help me connect better with the average non voter.I just could not go into London and, directly or otherwise, support a candidate that showed a disgusting lack of consideration for one ethnic minority, or indeed the Labour Party as a whole, without feeling morally compromised and having a damaged conscience!
This Mayoral election has tested the loyalty of a lot of Labour voters and activists in London to their limit! It has also made them feel there are double standards! How do you think they will felt when they were told that backing another candidate merited expulsion, and yet knowing that (because of their stature) Lord Sugar and Lord Winston etc.. will not face censure!
We have some tough lessons to learn here. 1) In 2016 we need a candidate who has not been rushed through and will have time to reflect, prepare, and bring forward their vision, before being selected 2) We need a candidate who plays by the rules and take attacks seriously but equally does not live in fear of them! 3) We need a candidate who is not a politician as such and brings something fresh and vital to London (If nothing else, the freshness of Siobhan Benita's campaign showed how much that is needed from the main parties, and it's also worth taking a look at Obama's campaign in 2007-08 for similar reasons) 4) Above all we need a candidate who cares for Londoners. All Londoners. Muslims, Jews, Christians, White, Black, Asian, Poor, Rich, Central Londoners, North and South Londoners etc.. and for that to be seen without fuss or pretence because if that does not come through Labour cannot expect to do well next time.
Luke Akehurst, articulates this far better, as does Atul Hatwal, and indeed Emma Burnell. Now that Ken has lost, I ask that the NEC and the London Labour Party bear this in mind and make sure that we are not coerced, or blackmailed, or pressurised into voting for or backing any of Ken's ilk again.This put the strain of loyalty of many London (and outside London) Labour activists to the limit. It is best not to test that again!