Saturday, May 03, 2008

Poles decide London mayoral election?

That’s what the losing candidate Ken Livingstone told Polish Radio this week.

'The Polish vote may be anywhere between 60 and 100,000 and therefore it’s become a decisive vote. We all expect this to be a very close election.'

'So the Polish community will effectively determine the outcome.'

Well, with the Conservative candidate Boris Johnson winning by 140,000 first and second preference votes then the Polish vote may well have been decisive.

There has been a record turnout in the election for London’s mayor. OK, the turnout is still only 45 percent, but that’s about ten percent better than usual.

And out of the 2.4 million voters who did go to the Poles yesterday, maybe up to 100,000 - the number who registered to vote - were from Poland.

So both the main candidates - the incumbent Ken Livingstone and conservative rival Boris Johnston were on to the Polish community in London during the election campaign to try and appear as their candidate.

Livingstone, or instance, promised a Polish day in London every year, to fall on May 3, Constitution day in Poland.

Former Polish prime minister (and once actiong mayor of Warsaw) Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz - who is now based in London working for the EBRD - reportedly gave his pledge to Boris Johnson.

And many observers believed that many Poles were likely to have given their vote to Boris, as Livingstone’s old nickname, dating back to the 1980s when he was a hard left local government politician, is Red. And maybe Poles, who wouldn’t know too much about the guy and how he is, these days, a typically British ideologically-lite politician, maybe they were not too keen on candidates with a nickname like that.

Heaer both leading candidates on the Polish vote here.


beakerkin said...


It was more likely the draconian congestion policies and voter fatigue.

Anonymous said...

Plus we are all sick to death of this useless government with there ever increasing taxes - surveillance cameras - fines for over filling your rubbish bins, taking us to into an illegal war with Iraq and promises which never amount to anything!

No wonder they got a slating in the recent local elections

Issie x

beatroot said...

Hi Issie. It was for sure a vote against the government...the problem for Livingstone was that he was once the anti-government candidate. That's how he was elected in the first place - to give Tony a bloody nose. But now Livingstone is very much a part of the labour he gets the bloody nose and more this time.

Suddenly, someone like Boris has become anti-establishment. How times are a changing...

Anonymous said...

Livingstone may have lost due to his associations with Labour but his policies were very much against what New Labour had done. One example was his anti-war policy as well as being brave enough to adopt policies such as the congestion charge, affordable housing and standing up for multi-cultural London. Also 'Red Ken' was very much an anti-'communist'. He was a strong supporter of Solidarność when he was head of the GLC and refused to visit the Eastern Bloc during communism.

The campaign in the media and the rise of the Tories was too much for him to buck the trend nationally. His vote was however far above what Labour got nationally. Things are not changing Beet, they're going back to how they were. The Tories are coming back. Even you, in your post-modern haze, must remember what that was like?

Anonymous said...

Going to be interesting to see how Boris performs. I suspect he's going to be either very good, or very bad. Nothing in-between.

Anonymous said...

I think he will be pretty useless to be honest - but hey - this was a protest vote:-)

Most people are just sick of Labour and all they have or haven't done here

Issie x

beatroot said...

Even you, in your post-modern haze, must remember what that was like?

Excuse me?

And you must resist the temptation to see history as some cyclical round a bout. The times changed a long time ago - forever.

The Tories are not coming back in the guise of the Tories - these are the New Tories and are virtually indistinguishable from New Labour. Even Livingstone has been playing the game. I remember when everyone went and voted Livingstone the first time he won and they thought that now there would be some real opposition to Tony Blair etc. And what happened? Nothing really. Livingstone wanted back in to Labour…he got back in and has now paid the price.

What we have now in the Uk is a homogenous political class that is offering British voters no choice at all. Politics has effectively ended in the UK.

And that is why we are seeing a growing number of people turning to fringe parties…like BNP. Not because they are fascists but because they want to stick a finger up at their clueless leaders.

So Tories back? Not really.

Anonymous said...

"I remember when everyone went and voted Livingstone the first time he won and they thought that now there would be some real opposition to Tony Blair etc. And what happened? Nothing really."

On transport alone Livingstone introduced the congestion charge (and planned to charge HUVs 25 quid); introduced free travel for pensioners and disabled; abolished bus and tram fares for everyone under eighteen in full-time education; brought down bus fares; opposed the privatisation of the tube. All this meant that London was the only city in the world that has moved from private to public transport in recent years.

He has also introduced a programme of building affordable housing in London, used the olimpics to regenerate one of the most run down areas around Stratford; introduced a living minimum wage for staff employed by him and campaigned for it to be taken up by the private sector
Ran a strong environment campaign being recognised as being one of the world's most innovative and leading politicians on the environment; He set up the first gay partnership registrations in the UK; he has taken a consistent position defending multi-culturalism in London. On foreign policy he opposed the war, supported Palestine and made links with the Chavez government in Venezuela.

Maybe you don't like these things but don't pretend they are the same as New Labour, they are not. He did not bankrupt the council like in Liverpool in the 1980s he led it sensibly but progressively.

Are you really saying there is no difference between what Ken did and the Tories?!? At least be serious.

Bielanek (can't remember my password so I'm posting anon:)

beatroot said...

Don't expect Johnson to be that different from Livingstone. There is no real ideological divide in UK politics anymore.

What they are both doing is trying to change people's behaviour...this is all that is left for politicians now that the economy has been taken out of political debate.

So Boris is gonna change kids naugty behaviour. Livingstone - Miserablist of London - was gonna make sure that civil liberties went out the window is his tonekistic zeal to 'save the planet...'.

Really, the difference between the two was one was a Little Stalin and the other a Little Mussolini.

The election campaign was like a reality TV show for personality politics.

Boris got the vote...Ken got kicked out of the house.

RIP UK politics.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but that really shows a lack of understanding of what's going on. So simple to write off everything with generalisations. Just think for a moment about how it would look if a Mayor in Warsaw tried to introduce a congestion charge, or introduced a minimum wage, started a social housing programme, opposed the war or made links with Chavez. Do you think people would be calling it non-political. You would have a similar campaign in the media as Ken had to face in London from the Evening (daily mail) Standard. New Labour was on 24% nationally. Ken managed to get his vote up into the fourties, a pretty decent performance. But the Torries for the first time in a couple of decades have managed to rally their constituencies in the suburbs against someone who they realise is an ideological politician. Wake up Beet you've lost it on this one. Youre so keen to deride everything as being 'post-political' (probably to justify your own move away from political conviction) that you cannot even realise when something serious is occurring.

beatroot said...

A congestion charge? Revolutionary left on the march, anyone? Congestion charge is NOT politics. This is managerialism at its most insipid.

Anonymous said...

Congestion charge is one example I gave. Ken was not PM let alone have control of the economy. He tried to improve public services and the lives of people where he could. Allowing people to move cheaply and efficiently is part of this. Moving from private to public transport is a progressive step. What are you saying: socialist revolution or nothing?

beatroot said...

No, I am saying that if you watch the way Livingstone has changed since the GLC days (oh, yes, I voted for him back then) you will see what has happened to leftwing politics in the Uk and in general. Back then was the fag end of it all....since 1090, there has been no difference between the parties at all, and ken has gone with that.

All they have left therse days is to try and be the best managers...not offering people alternative competing visions of the Good Society. That's what inspires people - not Oyster cards (which Poland had years before the great Ken delivered them.

and if ken was soooo inspiring then why did not even half of London bother voting?

UK politics - RIP.

Anonymous said...

Livingstone talks as a socialist, but not one that is interested in empty gestures. If the left is to rebuild itself it has to show it can govern well and progressively. Ken did this to the best of his powers (not without mistakes.) Of course the left needs a vision, an ideal. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, even those of us who opposed Stalinism have been left in a unipolar world. That's a wider problem, but not a good one for not supporting Ken.

Labour won 24% in the elections, Ken won over 40%, on a high turnout. The suburbian middle class reconnected with the Tories and mobilised better than the Labour heartlands who have turned (understandably) against New Labour. Livingstone was not strong enough to buck that trend. More's the pity.


beatroot said...

Livingstone talks as a socialist, but not one that is interested in empty gestures.

Stop dreaming. Socialism? He's like that other 'socialist' galloway who goes out of his way to placate arch reationaries, homophobes and women haters in the Muslim Brotherhood et al. Progressive politics? Don;t think so, and he certainly has nothing to so with the old socialism.

Anonymous said...

ahha. The 'old' socialist resorts to pedaling the myths of the Daily Mail in order to justify his own conversion to liberalism. An old and tired story.


beatroot said...

Bielanek, these are not daily mail myths. This is the Left of today.

Back way back when, the Left thought that the working class were the motor of social change. Unfortunately that didn’t work out that well. Since then the Left has been pinning its hopes on ‘communities’ such as Muslims etc. And that means making alliances with Muslim Brotherhood types. This is not a secret. Look at what Respect was. And Livingstone was the same.

And all this green stuff. That is not a leftwing position. Monbiot et al are not against bad old capitalism they are against industrialisation. They don’t like modernity.

Livingstone has turned into one of those left wing reactionaries.

And reactionaries don’t get my vote.

Anonymous said...

Monbiot .. not against bad old capitalism they are against industrialisation. They don’t like modernity.

That's just plain horsepoopy.

Monbiot is not against industrialization and modernity, but rather just opposed to destructive forms of industrialization and manifestations of modernity.

You seem to be in favor of all forms of industrialization and modernity even if they are destructive.

Anonymous said...

Beat. I think I was too kind on you saying that you had turned into a liberal. You sound remarkably like those old lefties who have made the journey from the left to neo-conservatism (Cohen, Hitchens, Amis, etc). They use secular, liberal and even leftist language to justify the wars in the middle east (if you haven’t got that far yet watch out it’ll catch up on you) and the subjugations of the muslim communities in the West. Don’t believe the hype Beat, listen to what people actually say. Here you can hear Ken’s own words on the topic:

It's rather sad to see someone who comes from the left and probably still claims to have the 'values' of the left peddle such right-wing nonsense.

On the environment. Just be honest for once. In the past you've derided those, such as Gore, who take an individualist moralistic line about the environment, and i understand that. I too want modernity and progress. I too think that 300 million people in China who are no longer in poverty is a huge human achievement. But, the environment is a serious issue. There is a process of global warming going on and it is because of human actions. The uncontrollable forces of the market destroying and depleting all in its way causes not just human but environmental damage. You take a Thatcherite, right-wing libertarian position that anything that interferes with individual 'rights' and against people’s wish to do what they please is 'reactionary'. One of the major human problems of the age is the expansion of cars in cities and the damage that this causes to people and the environment. You live in Warsaw you know this as well as I do. Why the fuck is it the right of people to drive HUVs where and when they want. If Ken had been re-elected it is estimated that his #25 tax on Chelsea Tractors would have saved over 3000 lives a year. But oh no that would infringe on Kowalski's right to drive his huge tank that he's worked so hard for. Your position on the environment is very close to the arch Thatcherite Valclav Klaus: It's such politics that make even seemingly minor actions such as the congestion charge become extremely political.

Think about where you're going for a minute.


Anonymous said...

Yes, please.

beakerkin said...


You are reading too much into the election and are not looking at a larger picture. If you look at a global perspective every politician
to a certain level is somewhat impacted a bad economic environment.

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