Friday, May 2, 2008

Johnson Ousts Livingstone Highlights Tory Decimation of Labour in Local Elections

I am sure Gordon Brown is trying to take comfort in the words of the late Harold Wilson who said, "A week in politics is a lifetime." The Labour Party has just suffered its worse showing in local elections since 1968 when Wilson was in power. Two years later, Wilson fell to Edward Heath and the Tories in the general election. When I was there in 1995, it was the Tories who had their worst electoral showing ever in that's year local elections. The Tories were on their last legs. Two years later, John Major succumbed to Tony Blair and New Labour. Brown must call an election two years from now and the way things are going he will wait until the last possible minute to do so. Unless Brown rescues a busload of schoolchildren from drowning, David Cameron will be moving to 10 Downing Street in 2010.

Undoubtedly, the most significant development in this round of local elections is Ken Livingstone's loss to Tory MP Boris Johnson for the mayoralty of London. Back in July 2005, in the wake of the London terrorist attacks, I wrote two articles on Livingstone ( and Livingstone played host to Yusuf al Qaradawi, a Muslim scholar who has often praised Palestinian suicide bombers. For his part, Livingstone declared the Israeli Likud Party and Hamas "were two sides of the same coin." Needless to say, Livingstone's eight years at the helm of London couldn't have come more unceremoniously. Although in fairness Johnson, currently a Tory MP, is known for stirring the pot first as a journalist and then editor of The Spectator. The best way I can describe Johnson would be if Ann Coulter were to have a sex change operation and then were to immediately decide to run for office. It remains to be seen what kind of mayor Johnson will be. For all of Livingstone's faults, he did have a strong background in local government. Johnson doesn't have this experience but that might not necessarily hurt him. Johonson might be someone who surrounds himself with good people who handle the day to day stuff while he takes hold of a couple of initiatives and uses those to put his stamp on London.

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