Rich and Conservative, Ken Livingstone?

Just to note that Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London who is himself content, as a reputedly rich tax avoider, not to vote Conservative, told viewers of last Tuesday’s Newsnight on BBC2 that Jews were rich and so voted Conservative.

“If we were talking 50 years ago, the Roman Catholic community, the Irish community in Britain, the Jewish community was solidly Labor. Still the Irish Catholic community is pretty still solidly Labor because it is not terribly rich.

“As the Jewish community got richer, it moved over to voting for Mrs Thatcher as they did in Finchley”.

He thereby perpetuates, in these times of UKIP and anti-minority sentiment, the myth that Jews are rich while others struggle to get by.

It seems like a case of unsavoury wishful thinking of him to focus on class here. For a start, we know that Thatcher got in on the back of white working class voters, as UKIP may this year and next. And then there’s the fact tha,t since he has this weird thing about Jews – who comprise a bare 0.5% of the electorate, he should at least be vaguely aware that in 2010 the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (IJPR) reported an even Conservative / Labour among British Jews, with many floating or undecided voters. Like most British young people, Jewish young people are less likely to vote Conservative. Single and secular Jews, ditto. And like women in general, Jewish women are more likely to grasp that voting Conservative is not in their interests. To pick up on the Conservative leanings of religious Jews, it is the most religious who are most likely to live in poverty, according to a 2011 IJPR report.

So Ken’s assertion seems more and more spurious.

From his experience of alienating Jews and the ensuing coverage, I surmise that Ken Livingstone knew what he was saying. I’d say he’s one of those who holds negative views of Jews. Antisemitism goes hand in hand with other errors of judgement so it was no surprise that, even though Boris Johnson had a terrible record at the time, Livingstone contrived to lose the last London mayoral election for the Labour party (the cleverest of whom refused to compromise their principles on him).

London Labour mayoral candidate hustings kick off in Hainault

Not being a Labour member myself (though my heart is with them, I can’t commit to a party that irresponsible about our habitat) I sent a delegate to the Labour mayoral candidate hustings in Hainault (cradle of London politics) this evening.

Ken talked about his achievement as former mayor, particularly the buses, evening up policing in the wards to make it more like the 1950s, and obtaining funding for council housing. He advocated economic links with China – no caveats. Hardly mentioned the environment. He also talked about vocational training. He counted former factory sites twice – once for building homes on and another time for rebuilding factories on. Apparently he was very credible, unless you know he accepts money from the Iranian government’s Press TV and have seen Martin Bright’s sorry tale of corruption – which is why we need to keep these things in mind, alongside the deal he made with the now President-for-life of Venezuela accept discounted oil from a developing country, the cuddling of extreme right Muslims, and how he fought for the non-doms to live in London tax free. He’s a populist, and no democrat. London would just be his bauble again. I don’t want to return to those days.

Oona illustrated her vision for community participation with Tower Hamlets story of a Bangladeshi woman who had never been involved with social enterprise before, but started a successful fruit and veg collective on her estate. She talked about her achievements as MP including protecting workers’ terms and conditions, for which she brokered a deal between the TUC and CBI. She also changed the rules around right-to-buy after in Tower Hamlets they were given £50m on regenerating an estate, but right-to-buy ate into it. She has plans for transport, comparing London to Africa where it is easy to get between the parts that the colonial powers used to want to get to; she wants it to be easier to get across London, and not just in and out. She wants to recalibrate the economy to balance out financial capital with social capital (social enterprise, like the veg collective). She talked about using the buying power of the GLA to get businesses to do things – so clauses into contracts to encourage equal pay by favouring businesses with better pay equality.

Apparently they were civil and courteous to each other. Oona closed with a bit of advice: vote for the candidate who can beat Boris.

Well, I reckon she needs to get her campaign in gear so she gets a chance to do that.

Update: Oona King’s campaign site.

London elections – the Left caught in the act of alienating a supporter

Welcome to the latest installment of Flesh’s Mayoral Dilemma.

There are various tools around to help you decide who to vote for in the London Mayoral elections, based on your values and political convictions. You answer a number of multiple choice questions generated from manifesto statements and it tells you which candidates are best matched.

We have two votes to give – Vote Match tells me to vote for Sian Berry followed by Lindsay German. The New Statesman’s Fantasy Mayor (hah!) tells me Sian Berry followed by Brian Paddick (though this was only Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Green).

Trouble is Lindsay German is a member of the SWP, a party which pushes antisemitic ways of thinking, admires Hamas and Hesbollah, assumes a most infuriating and plain wrong anti-Zionism, and promotes a weird and disturbing hate-fuelled boycott of Israel which is utterly devoid of class analysis. And Sian Berry’s Green Party, in the absence of any developed foreign policy, absurdly boycotts Israel with a motion which clearly implies that Israel should moreover be cancelled. She hasn’t replied to my email asking about her personal take on Israel.

And here I am, understanding if skeptical of Zionism, diagnosed by the decision support tools as still Left – even after the repellent cuddling of terrorists and the equally repellent persistent – obsessive, even – stalking of the state Jews decided to make for themselves under the auspices of the 1947 UN Partition Plan after narrowly escaping total annihilation at the hands of murderous antisemites.

My two top candidates are playing the game of constructing Israel as a pariah state. Because I dig my heels in about that, their parties have wasted days-worth of my time. And I baulk at Ken Livingstone (my third) who has baited Jews, warmly cuddled Intifada Fatwa-issuing, homophobic, misogynist cleric al-Qaradawi, and provided a perch for Redmond O’Neill who said the Board of Deputies of British Jews represented the ‘Zionist lobby’ and ‘we must smash the Zionists’.

The upshot is that I can’t vote for the candidates I’d naturally vote for and look myself in the eye. In order to vote the way I want to on affordable housing, the environment and public transport, I have to disregard the ways the candidates are flouting the concerns of British Jews.

See my difficulty? Why has my vote been sacrificed so that these candidates can try to unite the fractured support for their small, weak parties around Israel as a scapegoat?

I feel like a faithful but abused dog.

The local rescue home seems to be run by Brian Paddick.