Socialist Worker

LETTERS: Ken Livingstone fought for the left and progressive politics

Issue No. 2606

Ken Livingstone

Ken Livingstone (Pic: World Economic Forum)

The enforced resignation of Ken Livingstone from the Labour Party will be deeply disturbing to many socialists and activists both in and beyond Labour.

When I starting teaching in the early 1980s, Livingstone led the Greater London Council (GLC).

It set vital standards for all progressive teachers. These covered race, class, gender and sexual orientation.

Projects that provided a voice and services for key minority groups flourished thanks to funding from the GLC. This was at a time when equality of treatment was bitterly contested by the Tories and right wing Labour.

One of Livingstone’s most popular policies was the introduction of “Fares Fair”. This meant cheap travel for millions of Londoners until it was unceremoniously overthrown by the judges in the High Court.

Way ahead of its time, Livingstone was a champion of the rights of the Palestinians. He also stood for the unity of Ireland and for discussion with the IRA.

He courageously invited Gerry Adams to London and was pilloried in the press for it.

He consistently challenged Tony Blair’s New Labour, for which he was expelled.

His popularity meant that he dramatically won his first term as London’s Mayor as an independent from the left, and Blair was later forced to readmit him.

Throughout his political life Livingstone has been an uncompromising opponent of US imperialism.

I believe his remarks about Hitler and Zionism were very poorly chosen. But it is unquestionable that Livingstone’s record is of uncompromising opposition to all forms of racism.

On his resignation, Jeremy Corbyn thanked Livingstone for his contribution to progressive politics. Corbyn was right, but I hoped he would have faced down the onslaught against Livingstone.

Compromise with the Blairite Labour right will not silence them—they will be back for more. 

Jan Nielsen, North London

Cultural boycott battle has had a huge impact

I read with interest Nick Clark’s article, Cultural boycott is a way to expose Israel, (Socialist Worker, 16 May).

Cultural boycott is a way to expose Israel
Cultural boycott is a way to expose Israel
  Read More

A growing number of artists are looking for ways to express support for Palestine.

In 2012, Artists for Palestine UK issued a pledge for artists to sign promising not to go to Israel until its government complies with international law and universal principles of human rights. To date we have 1,200 signatures.

Artists such as Lorde and Elvis Costello, who refused to perform in Israel, have had a worldwide impact.

Just this week dozens of bands have endorsed the call for a cultural boycott.

Even “unsuccessful” campaigns have brought to the attention of millions of people the situation in Palestine.

Hilary Westlake, Artists for Palestine UK

Israeli terror flows from Zionism

A question for all those who seek to convince the world that criticising Zionism is antisemitic.

What makes people use powerful, high-velocity weapons to kill or maim hundreds of their fellow human beings?

It is not because they are Jewish.

It is because they are part of a political project aimed at establishing an exclusively Jewish state by displacing a people of a different religion.  

This behaviour is nothing to do with “Jewishness” and everything to do with the inevitable outcome of the Zionist project.

John Murphy, Stockport

FLA report was wrong

I don’t wish to take away from the hard work done by many groups and individuals to oppose the Football Lads Alliance (FLA) in Manchester.

Football Lads Alliance demoralised as anti-racists outnumber them
Football Lads Alliance demoralised as anti-racists outnumber them
  Read More

But I feel that the overly triumphant and ecstatic tone in Socialist Worker is misplaced and dangerous.

By celebrating as if we had won a great battle (600 anti-racists to 300 FLA) instead of winning a skirmish is dangerous.

It gives a false sense of optimism and strength. Enthusiasm easily turns into demoralisation.

To use a boxing analogy, we neither won by knock out nor by winning on points after grinding down our opponent.

I will make the following prediction for Manchester on 2 June.

The Democratic Football Lads Alliance (DFLA) turnout will be in the thousands because they are larger than the FLA.

Unlike 19 May there are no events to draw the DFLA’s attention away like the FA Cup final and the royal wedding.

The bulk of the London-based FLA football firms will be there—as well as hardened Nazis and the far-right.

Instead of misplaced triumphalism a much more measured approach is needed.

A recognition that the DFLA/FLA is in its formative stage, the football season is over and the FLA will have many more big demos.

Ultimately, it presses the urgency of a united front to take the FLA on.

The wider left needs to rise to the challenge.

John Curtis, Ipswich

A new album from McCrea?

William McCrea’s new 2018 album is titled, Thank the Lord I’m a Lord (Troublemaker, 23 May).

Available at the poison counter at Boots.

John Stewart, on Facebook

No pay rise at DWP please

The way that DWP employees act in regards to sanctioning disabled people, they should go a month or two without ANY payment (PCS union backs strike vote over pay, 23 May).

They shouldn’t get a pay rise until they stop targeting us, disabled and sick people.

Pain Warrior, on Twitter

The problems facing Corbyn

This will embolden those traitorous anti-Corbyn Blairies (Ken Livingstone’s resignation is a victory for the right, 21 May).

Who will be attacked next with their faux outrage?

Terry Russell, on Facebook

If Jez won all the establishment would be against him. He would get swallowed up with the puppet masters.

We need a revolution by the people for the people.

Melanie Powell, on Twitter

SW is always worth a read

Socialist Worker is always a good and informative read.

A rare thing these days.

Frank Casey, on Facebook

Well done to Five Leaves

Congratulations to Five Leaves Bookshop for winning national Independent Bookshop of the year award 2018.

The radical bookshop stocks left publications, including Socialist Worker. It also hosts events and supports local meetings.

If in Nottingham do visit—14a Long Row.

Richard Buckwell, Nottingham

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Article information

Mon 28 May 2018, 17:50 BST
Issue No. 2606
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