Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/148/7754
Livingstone breaks from Labour:
Time for a new workers' party
Fight for a Socialist alternative
KEN LIVINGSTONE'S decision to stand as an independent candidate for London mayor will mean a big change in British politics. After the frustrations of the last three years, it will be welcomed by everybody who's fed up with Blair's Labour government.
Millions across London want to see an alternative not just to privatisation of the tubes, but also a solution to the continuing crisis in our NHS, our poorly-resourced schools, our run-down housing estates and the congestion and pollution of our over-crowded, underfunded transport system.
The blatant ballot-rigging, which let Dobson become Labour's official candidate outraged most people, particularly those disenfranchised by Blair's policies.
Devolution for London, as for Scotland and Wales, was to be a farce. Livingstone's decision to stand will breathe life into what would have been a dour election.
The hapless Frank Dobson, whose campaign launch was scuppered by Livingstone's announcement, is now in dire straits. Dobson says he wants to concentrate on the issues, but the campaign will clearly be bitterly fought with vitriolic attacks on Livingstone.
A Livingstone victory will be seen as a blow against the 'control freak' tendency around Blair. It will show the anger existing on working-class estates across London towards New Labour.
New Labour's abandonment of its once traditional working class base in favour of the rich and big business goes beyond the London assembly elections and the issues of democracy for London and tube privatisation. People support Livingstone because he's seen as a radical alternative.
The Socialist Party welcomes Ken Livingstone's decision to stand as an independent. But he needs to go much further.
Livingstone needs to signal a total break with New Labour. He should use this opportunity to build on the opposition to the government and call a conference of trade unionists, community campaigners and socialists as a step towards building a new mass party to represent working-class people.
In The Socialist 10 March 2000: