Labour candidate for Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone has yet to offer fraternal solidarity to the Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi. Yet back in the 1980s Livingstone used to be editor of Labour Herald. The paper was printed by a firm based in Runcorn, Cheshire called Astmoor Litho, which also printed News Line and publications sponsored by the Libyan government.
News Line was published by the Workers Revolutionary Party and generally believed to be funded by Libya. Asked by his biographer Andrew Hosken about the funding of Labour Herald, Livingstone said that the WRP's leader Gerry Healy had offered to do the printing. "They were quite happy not to make a profit, whether they subsidised it or not I wouldn't know." Perhaps the mystery will be solved if the relevant files in Tripoli survive once Gaddafi is finally ousted.
Healy was eventually ousted as WRP leader by his rivals after 26 women accused him of "cruel and systematic debauchery on party premises." At Healy's funeral Livingstone popped up, praised the quality of News Line's journalistic output and declared:
"I haven't the slightest doubt that the upheavals that split apart the Workers Revolutionary Party were not some accident or some clash of personalities. They were a sustained and deliberate decision by MI5 to smash the organisation because they feared it was going to become too pivotal in terms of domestic politics."
Libyan TV has reported a more boosting phone call from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Gaddafi by telephone:
"President Chavez reconfirmed to the brother leader his solidarity and the solidarity of the Venezuelan people and the peoples of Latin America without exception with the Libyan people in its brave opposition to the conspiracy of suspicious circles, which is targeting the achievements gained by the great victorious revolution and its leader for the cause of freedom, and progress in Latin America in particular, and in the world as a whole.
"President Chavez told the brother leader that the Latin American peoples stand side by side and completely ready to make sacrifices in solidarity with the Libyan people and its leader Muammar Gaddafi in confronting this imperialist, Zionist conspiracy, which is targeting security, stability and its national unity."
Yet Hugo's chum Ken Livingstone remains uncharacteristically reticent. Perhaps I should ring his LBC phone in programme.