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The “Other” Labour Contest

In by Sam, Going Into Labour 2010 on September 11, 2010 at 18:50

olly Toynbee wrote a great piece in the Guardian a fortnight ago decrying the various attempted of Labour’s hasbeens to get their opinions and thoughts on the parties leadership contest heard. It was almost uncomfortable to watch as the old dons of the government establishment cosy-ed up with their potential replacements (in an attempt to exercise some long-gone influence) just as the candidates tried, politely to edge away – smiling – but desperate to not be photographed next to the likes of Peter Mandelson.

The clear desperation of the 5 Labour leadership contestants to distance themselves from various aspects and characters of the party’s past may also be reflected in who, if anyone, they choose to back in the ‘other’ Labour contest – the one for London mayoral candidate.

The choice between Oona King and Ken Livingstone has, in the press, been portrayed as another battle between the Labour of old and the fresh face of the party. This simplification seems particularly superficial, if not bizarre, if you look into both candidates just slightly. Ken – although a giant character in his own right – has never been associated too closely with the party clique. He was forced to stand as an independent because of his rejection by, then prime minister, Tony Blair only to embarrass all by winning 39% of the vote and his first term in office.

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Oona – I’ve seen portrayed by some as the untainted alternative – entered government in 1997 seen by many (in the press, again) as one of Blair’s best and brightest for the future, only to lose office in 2005 largely because of her support of the war in Iraq.

I will allow you to make up your own mind as to who is the less New (or ironically Old) Labour candidate – as can any of the leadership candidates who feel the need to wade into the argument on this one and offer their backing.

The announcement of which candidate will run will be made on the 26th of September.


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