Friday, 13 April 2012

Kick the Glass Bollock!

Until Victory, Always!
A little over a year since the March for the Alternative, George Galloway caught everyone off guard and was rushed into office in Bradford West. The execration could soon be heard. It came howling from the open jaws of the Labour Party machine with its entitlement to squat over the post-industrial North ever ready to defecate! The liberal commentariat managed to lower itself from the heights of mud-slinging to the lows of booing and hooting at the victor. How distasteful it was that the electorate had rejected the established Left? For almost 40 years Bradford had been a 'safe seat' for Labour and Ed Miliband was embarrassingly on his way to celebrate victory. This humiliation is not something the political class will take likely. And this is more reason to think that the Establishment will want to save face in the London Mayoral. It is a perfect opportunity to send a clear message to David Cameron: Fuck You! But it is unclear where an alternative figure would come from in the Mayoral.

We face a choice between Boris Johnson, Ken Livingstone and Brian Paddick. But really we just have two choices: more Mayor BJ or a return to Red Ken. There's no point pretending that the third party matters anymore after this government. Voting may not just be a right, but a civic duty that demands of us and makes us participants. And yet it is impossible to be enthused at the prospect of the same choice we had 4 years ago. Ultimately, the London Mayoral is a test for the Coalition and victorious Boris would certainly provide a much-needed symbolic vindication for this government. If the glass testicle fell into the hands of Ken Livingstone, once again, then we might hear talk of a coming Labour administration in 2015. The rejection of a softened version of what we're getting will be interpreted as a loving embrace of what we're enduring already. Only less or more austerity are viable, no real yes or no for us to choose from on the question of cuts.

The Genital of Patronage.
There is room for protest votes, as always, the BNP and UKIP are there to soak up the rage like the miserable sponges they are. Probably the best left-wing alternative to Ken Livingstone is the Green candidate Jenny Jones. You may hear that little voice inside that inquires rhetorically "How could she ever win?" No doubt people said the same of Gorgeous George. On the other hand, it is undeniable that the Green Party lacks the same potential to unify a mass-base as RESPECT had done in Bradford. It was a populist tidal wave formed by the white working-class, the Muslim community and the student population upon which George Galloway surfed. It's difficult to see a repeat of that in London with the line-up we have. At least at the level of appearances, the possibilities opened by Galloway's victory for the Left could be slammed shut by another term of Boris.

With all of this in mind Ken Livingstone is not the worst of Labour, far from a disgraced Blairite, even if we take into account his most cynical and opportunistic moments. Putting aside the hysterical attempts by the Right to vilify Ken. He remains one of a precious handful of politicians, like Tony Benn, who understand what is at stake when social democracy is being eviscerated before our eyes. And it is the preservation of social democracy which we, as citizens, should be concerned with most at this juncture. We have to keep in mind what this country could have been had it been kept out of the hands of people like Margaret Thatcher and her loyal successors. The welfare state won't save itself and the liberals have proven incapable of defending it. This is a time for pragmatism, not a detached anti-political purity of character.

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