Livingstone’s humourless attack

LONDON MAYOR Ken Livingstone made the scandalous assertion last week, carried in some national papers and TV programmes that Tony Blair’s inner circle was “like a mirror image of the old Militant Tendency”. He added that “they have no life outside politics, they require total compliance with the line and they are devoid of humour.”

This attack brought a forthright response to the press from Socialist Party General Secretary Peter Taaffe.

He said: “It’s right that Ken Livingstone should criticise Tony Blair’s inner circle of advisers who are responsible for promoting a right-wing anti-working-class agenda. But in doing so, he seems to have forgotten the reality of the past. Ken Livingstone spoke at many rallies organised by Militant (now called the Socialist Party) in the early 1980s, including a 3,000-strong anti-witch-hunt rally at Wembley, where Peter Taaffe, then editor of Militant, also shared the platform.

“Militant was one of the foremost forces in shifting the Labour Party to the left, which Ken Livingstone was one of the main beneficiaries of at the time. Then he rightly criticised Labour leaders for carrying out right-wing policies. Now, unfortunately, Ken Livingstone is in danger of carrying out similar measures to Blair by surrounding himself with Tory and Liberal advisers as Mayor of London.

“The only way he can ‘distance’ himself from the unpopular Blair is by launching snide attacks on his former allies. The charges that we are in any way comparable to the automatons of the Blair inner circle is risible.

“Our members are mainly ordinary working-class people who know how to combine political commitment to campaign for the interests of working-class people, while having a life and even being known to crack a joke or two. The biggest joke in all this is Ken Livingstone’s silly comments.”