Andrew Gilligan has a blog post about how Labour officials are in despair at the candidacy of Ken Livingstone for Mayor for London.
The official in charge of the London Labour Party has been removed after saying that Ken Livingstone, Labour’s candidate for the mayoralty, “cannot win” next year’s election if he continues as now.
Hilary Perrin, Labour’s London regional director, has been moved back to her previous role overseeing all the regional directors after Ken and his chief of staff, Simon Fletcher, appealed to Ed Miliband’s office. Another London Labour official, Paul Harrington, has also left his job. An awayday to plan the campaign, supposed to take place last Friday, was cancelled.
At the moment it is quiite likely that Boris Johnson will be reelected with an increased majority to the one he had in 2008. Of course it is a personal contest. Yet the relevance to the Labour Party seeking to ake progress towards forming the next Government is hard to avoid. Livingstone's failure would also mean that Ed Miliband had failed a key test. Red Ken could drag down Red Ed with him.
The election is not until May 3rd next year. Six months should be long enough for Labour to choose a credible candidate. That is what they would do if they were serious about winning. But they are stuck in a state of paralysis. Ed Miliband is not a strong leader. Livingstone was chosen by Labour members who had the chance to back Oona King.
There would still have been a perfectly valid grounds for ditching Livingstone not only as a Labour candidate but as a Labour Party member for backing Lutfur Rahman for Mayor of Tower Hamlets against an official Labour candidate. But the time to do something about that would have been a year ago.
Another scenario would be for Livingstone to withdraw as a candidate. For him to selflessly put the Party first. Not going to happen.
Thus we have the London Labour Party in a slow motion train crash.
All they can do is reflect that another candidate would probably lose anyway. The support for Boris Johnson is positive – not just a question of wising to avoid the return of Livingstone. The strategy appears to be to let Livingstone have whoever he likes running the campaign so that his alibis are restricted.