Vote Livingstone: tax-dodger, hypocrite and scumbag

March 9, 2012 at 11:31 am (Asshole, AWL, expenses, Guardian, islamism, Jim D, labour party, Livingstone, London, New Statesman, Pabs, populism, tax, unions)

“You know that I have long held the opinion that a Labour Left which accepts you as any sort of leader, or even as a member, is a Left that lacks purpose, standards, memory, self-definition and proper self-respect” – Sean Matgamna, Open Letter to Ken Livingstone, 2010.

The net finally seems to be closing on Ken Livingstone. For decades, this strutting shyster and shameless charlatan has somehow ‘got away with it’ in the eyes of much of the ‘left’ (from the liberal-left Guardianistas to the ‘far- left’ of the Socialist Action and Socialist Worker variety).

Some of us, like Sean Matgamna of the AWL, rumbled Livingstone early on and had no hesitation in denouncing him for what he was (and remains): a posturing, fake-left gobshite willing to grovel to the powerful and, indeed, anyone, no matter how reactionary, who might do his career some good.

But, astonishingly, most of the ‘left’ and much of the trade union movement has continued to be taken in by (the future) Lord Redken of Gobshite. Their chummy approach is summed up by the fact that they feel themselves to be on first name terms with him – he’s always “Ken” to these idiots.

Even when he sank as low as anyone who claims to be a socialist can sink, and called for scabbing, the Livingstone ‘brand’ has remained strangely unsullied. Until now.

It turns out that this champion of the poor and oppressed, this scourge of the ruling class, is nothing but a dirty, hypocritical, two-faced tax-dodger. Most of us first heard about this last Sunday from Nick Cohen’s column in the Observer. Cohen, an honest left-wing journalist has been one of the very few writers in the mainstream liberal-left media, to have consistently attacked Livingstone in recent years, and for the right reasons. But Cohen’s understandable hatred of the man has led him to an unfortunate political conclusion with regard to the forthcoming London elections: “I will vote for Labour assembly members, then Green, Lib Dem or something equally silly for mayor, and offer no second preference. If Johnson wins by one vote, I’ll say that was Labour’s fault  for putting forward Livingstone, not mine. We own the politicians. They don’t own us.”

The AWL, which has been denouncing Livingstone for even longer than Cohen, still calls for a Labour vote in the mayoral, as well as GLA, elections;

Vote Livingstone… very critically

By Andrew Smith       

Ken Livingstone has aligned himself with the Occupy movement and attacked the tax-avoiding rich. Now, however, it seems he is one of them himself.

There has been a minor scandal in the media because Livingstone and his wife set up a company to channel money from his media appearances and speeches — allowing them to avoid the 50% income tax rate and pay 20% corporation tax instead.

It’s right that there should be a scandal. It’s a shame it’s so far mostly limited to the press, and limited to the issue of tax-dodging. The real issue here is that Livingstone is a very rich man trying to get richer — not the kind of individual who can seriously represent working-class London.

Nor is it “just” a matter of personal wealth. It’s his policies. In 2008, when Labour chancellor Alistair Darling proposed a trivial tax on foreign financiers, and was backed by the Tories, Livingstone opposed the move. While as London Mayor he never offended the City, or property-developers, he did go out of his way to attack the unions on London Underground.

Livingstone’s record and his policies on a whole range of issues — not just basic “class struggle” ones, but his links to reactionary semi-Islamist forces — rule out the idea that he is a serious left-winger, let alone a socialist. This is abundantly obvious, if you don’t close your eyes to it. Go on Livingstone’s campaign website, for instance, and you immediately confronted with a special page featuring an image of policeman’s helmet and a pledge to increase police numbers.

Unfortunately a huge swathe of the left is closing their eyes. Livingstone’s union backing is — so far — completely uncritical, while the SWP seems to have only published one sentence on the election: “We will be backing Labour’s Ken Livingstone for London mayor” (of course, the SWP sees Livingstone’s Islamist links as a virtue).

We should still work for a Labour victory — despite Livingstone.

However inadequate from a working-class socialist point of view, Livingstone’s policies are different from Johnson’s. He says he will cut fares and reinstate EMAs for London college students. He has backed a campaign to defend and extend council housing. He opposes more cuts than Johnson does, anyway, and has even supported some strikes.

These differences reflect the underlying reality that Livingstone is the candidate of the labour movement. The fact that the labour movement does not have the political will to impose a better candidate — a candidate who is not a friend of the City and who has not openly encouraged RMT members to scab on their strikes — or even to put more pressure on Livingstone is a reflection of our weakness. We seek to address that.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson is openly and unreservedly a servant of the ruling class, committed to class warfare against the working class and the labour movement. He opened his campaign with an Evening Standard interview pledging to bring in driverless trains and smash the Tube unions.

A victory for Labour in the mayor and GLA elections will be a blow, however limited, against the Tory government. We should not trust Livingstone an inch, and organise to exert the maximum pressure on him. But we should do that while working for a Labour election victory.

*******************************************************************************************************************

NB: Even one of Livingstone’s closest media allies is now being mildly critical…but his no.1 cheer-leaders on the ‘far-left’ remain diplomatically silent. The tragedy is that a whole generation of socialists have been encouraged to have illusions in Livingstone, and many are now left very disillusioned indeed.

37 Comments

  1. realitynow2012 said,

    Whatever the merits of your argument – and though I raised funds for his independent campaign for London Mayor and got chucked out of the Labour Party as a result, I have reservations about him – I think terms like “scumbag” and “gobshite” should be excluded from intelligent discussion. And if not Ken, who? Boris?

  2. Jim Denham said,

    The article (and the headline) clearly advocates voting for him. Do you consider the term “scab” to also be unacceptable?

  3. skidmarx said,

    At least Jimbo and co. are marginally better than their friends at Harry’s Place, who are running a non-stop ad for the Tory campaign.

    • Monsuer Jelly est Formidable said,

      neither toryboy johnson nor newtboy livvingstOnE. Don’t vote. and destroy capital.

  4. Admin_J said,

    Vote for a scumbag? Why bother voting at all?

    See you on the streets.

  5. Jim Denham said,

    Skidiot: you’ve yet to explain or justify this repeated slander/libel:

    “their friends at Harry’s Place”

  6. skidmarx said,

    Jimbo, even you should know that truth is a defence to accusations of libel, even in this country (and notable that you should be coming out with this shit on a thread that leans heavily on Nick Cohen).
    Shall I count the ways:

    KB Player is a moderator here and has posting rights there.
    Sarah AB is a sympathetic commenter here and a fixture there.
    The number of posts you’ve approvingly lifted from there.
    Michael Ezra.
    The numerous slimiarities of political position and methodology.

    Like the loveliness of the subject of the Peter Sarstedt song, the list goes on and on, yes it does.

    Perhaps you’d like to explain howzabout you and they are chalk and cheese?

  7. representingthemambo said,

    Pretty much agree with all of this post. Livingstone’s record over the years has often been extremely questionable and his relationship with the barbaric Iranian regime is disgraceful.

    But he is the Labour candidate and the choice of the Labour movement. He is to the left of Boris and his policies will at least bear some relationship to the concerns of ordinary working class people. So in response to one of the earlier posts that is why if I was in London I would still be voting for him. As people have pointed out though, he has already made policy promises that he has no capacity to keep unless he is planning on making his first act organizing a march on Parliament to get his constitutional powers changed.

    In terms of appropriate language, I’m all in favour of sticking the boot in hard but terms like scab, racist, anti-semite etc are used far too liberally in my opinion and they are becoming devalued. Plenty of people on the left are wankers. But most of them aren’t scabs. Sometimes we have to accept that people have a very different view of an issue and argue it out politically.

    Resorting to such emotive language is pointless and is actually the sort of thing that the likes of Livingstone has done over the years when it has suited him.

  8. Faster Pussycat Miaow Miaow Miaow! said,

    Skidmarx is correct.

    As the saying goes, ‘lie down with dogs, get up with fleas’. Even if you are only writing the recipes page for Der Stuermer, you are still writing for Der Stuermer. If you don’t want to be associated with a far-right racist hate site, cut all ties with it and those who have anything to do with it.

    I understand that you may feel some warmth for one or two (former?) contributors, because they may have seemed personable enough at the time, however it is time to acknowledge the trajectory they were on and where their politics has ended up. It is also time to wake up to the fact that those sentiments are not reciprocated any further than they can use you for their own ends.

  9. Faster Pussycat Miaow Miaow Miaow! said,

    I find it interesting that communists are banned from this site while EDL members (sackcloth) and twisted weirdo obsessives (morality) are given free reign. Nevermind, I’ve worked my way around your pissy little ban.

  10. belreggCOMMEanatyar said,

    I agree with FPMMM – Jim Denham is perfectly okay with having hedge funder ringlicking fucks like sackcloth denigrate the homeless without critical comment. If Jim were actually a communist rather than a centrist liberal he would want to kick sackclothes fash head in rather than give the cunt a platform, but the soft fuck hasn’t got the guts to confront the enemies of working class even though the medium of his petty fucking meaningless shit blog. Wake up Jim you daft twat.

    • Jimmy said,

      Who are the enemies of the so called working class other than themselves!
      Work hard stop taking benefits unless required and get out of the gutter.
      Socialism is a non starter for hard working people. I disagree with Jim Denholm regarding Livingstone. Jim should come clean and tell the real truth about his antipathy for Livingstone. Could it have something to do with Livingstone calling that journalist a Nazi or was it fascist so long ago.

  11. Jim Denham said,

    “Could it have something to do with Livingstone calling that journalist a Nazi or was it fascist so long ago.”

    Not in the main, no. Although that incident (and several similar ones) tells us a lot about Livingstone. But you’ll note that in the main posting I make no mention of it. Not everyone is as obsessed by that particular issue as you evidently are, Jimmy.

    Or do you really think that the fact of my *not* mentioning that incident, in fact proves that the main post is a cunning and conspiratorial attempt to get back at Livingstone *because* of it..?

  12. skidmarx said,

    Presumably you’re just warming up to tell us the precise details of the vast difference you perceive between this site and the AWL on the one hand, and those strikingly similar those neo-con tossers at Harry’s Place.

  13. Jimmy said,

    It just came to mind Jim not an obsession at all. But you clearly do not want him elected. So Boris it is then? A good boost for the Tories for the next general election. They may even get a majority. Anything is better than Livingstone eh Jim Boy.

  14. Roger said,

    In this decadent and hopeless era the only choices history allows us is between greater and lesser evils.

    And Ken is the very definition of a lesser evil.

  15. Jim Denham said,

    Skidiot: “the precise details of the vast difference you perceive between this site and the AWL on the one hand…”

    You mean that because Harry’s Place attack Livingstone, we shouldn’t?

    You’re an uncritical Livingstone supporter, are you Skidiot?

    Jimmy: “But you clearly do not want him elected”: can you read, Jimmy? Try the headline first, that’s quite simple. Then work your way through the words of the article itself. I know the following is a bit difficult to follow for the hard of thinking, but please try:

    “A victory for Labour in the mayor and GLA elections will be a blow, however limited, against the Tory government. We should not trust Livingstone an inch, and organise to exert the maximum pressure on him. But we should do that while working for a Labour election victory.”

  16. skidmarx said,

    You mean that because Harry’s Place attack Livingstone, we shouldn’t?
    No, because you accused me of slander/libel for suggesting “At least Jimbo and co. are marginally better than their friends at Harry’s Place,” I asked if “you’d like to explain howzabout you and they are chalk and cheese?” and if you were going “to tell us the precise details of the vast difference you perceive between this site and the AWL on the one hand, and those strikingly similar those neo-con tossers at Harry’s Place.”

    Can’t you fucking read? Just answer the question, you poseur.

    You’re an uncritical Livingstone supporter, are you Skidiot?
    Mo. Simple answer to a simple question. Now you try it.

    • skidmarx said,

      Sorry, “Mo” should read “No”. Or “Nay,nay and thrice nay” if you prefer.

  17. skidmarx said,

    Amd here’s a supremely dumb remark from the New Statesman that deserves wider circulation:

    jimdenham
    10 March 2012 at 12:22
    “Wiped off the map,” “erased from the pages of history,”vanish from the page of time”: does the exact formulation really make very much difference?
    I’m not a Farsi speaker, but I do know that similar variations can be found in almost all translated documents (eg the Bible, Marx), but I’d say Ahmadinejad’s meaning is clear, whichever version you choose to regard as most authentic.
    But then Mahdi [sic. Is JD trying to smear/praise Mr.Hasan as a the prophesied redeemer of Islam in a way many would call Islamophobic and most of JD's Zionist friends would call antisemitic if Israelis were described in a similar manner, or can he just not spell?] Hasan, as a “one-stater” essentially agrees with Ahmadinejad anyway.

    http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/mehdi-hasan/2012/03/israel-iran-rentoul

  18. Jim Denham said,

    Skidiot: “Mo. Simple answer to a simple question. Now you try it”; and your question is, Skidiot?

    P.s: what does “Mo” mean? Could it possibly be a simple misspelling/keyboard-fumble…like, for instance, spelling *Mehdi* Hasan, *Mahdi*???

    You tell me, Skidiot.

    P.S: thanks, Skidiot for noting my contribution to the New Statesman debate. I’d feared no-one would notice it. Btw: found out anything about binationalism yet? It’s never too late to educate yourself and stop being an ingnorant asshole and antisemite, you know.

    • skidmarx said,

      Could it possibly be a simple misspelling/keyboard-fumble…like, for instance, spelling *Mehdi* Hasan, *Mahdi*???
      Yes.Simple answer to a simple question. Now you try it.

      Or are you scared to delineate the boundary between your politics and those of Harry’s Place, because either you’ll offend your friends there, or have to admit that one couldn’t put a cigarette paper between them?

      Answer the question, arsehole. If you’re scared to, you can admit that. If you still can’t understand a simple question, I’ll try putting it again and you can tell us which of the words you’re having trouble with:

      What’s the difference between you and Harry’s Place?

  19. Ralph said,

    Good piece, although to vote for this man would be tough to do.

    BTW comment #10 is a great example of extreme left idiocy.

  20. Jimmy said,

    Yes I can read Jimbo. You slag aff the candidate for Labour and you want Labour to win. Heard of unity Jimbo.

  21. Jim Denham said,

    Heard of “critical support” Jimmy? It’s a fairly elementary concept for revolutionary socialists (come to that, simply for discerning people generally). Without it, Marxists would never be able to vote Labour at all.

  22. Jim Denham said,

    Ah! The “question” at last:

    “What’s the difference between you and Harry’s Place?”

    If that’s a question, this is an answer.

  23. Jim Denham said,

    I’ve just noticed this sensible comment from Mr Mambo: “But most of them aren’t scabs”.

    True enough, Mr Mambo. But what about this http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2004/jun/26/uk.transport?

    The term “scab”, in this context isn’t just abuse. it is, simply, a statement of fact.

  24. Jim Denham said,

    Livingstone: “”The simple fact is, and the hypocrisy of all this, is Boris Johnson has exactly the same arrangements to handle his earnings from television. Almost everybody in the media, who is not employed directly, has exactly the same arrangements,” said Livingstone.

    “I am not offshore. I am running a small company, just like hundreds of thousands of people. It’s a smear campaign currently being run.”

    So Livingstone’s lines of defence are:

    1/ Boris Johnson has “exactly the same arrengements”

    2/ He (Livingstone) is “running a small company”.

    Two great defences for a “left-winger”. Pass the sick-bag.

  25. Ken Livingstone considered « Representing the Mambo said,

    [...] The charge sheet against Livingstone is a pretty long (crossing picket lines, chumming up with Islamist preachers, etc. etc.) and has been covered in great deal over the years, so I will just dwell on the issues that I consider key. [...]

  26. Emma Goldman said,

    So Livingstone’s lines of defence are:

    1/ Boris Johnson has “exactly the same arrengements”

    2/ He (Livingstone) is “running a small company”.

    Two great defences for a “left-winger”. Pass the sick-bag.

    Oh dear, someone else seems to be “running a small company”. I wonder if he uses it to obtain any tax advantages?

    Mr Sean Matgamna

    Director Summary

    Mr Sean Matgamna has 1 company director or secretary appointments.

    Short name – Sean Matgamna
    Director ID :

    Company Summary

    Company Name Company Status
    W.L. PUBLICATIONS LTD. Active

    W.L. PUBLICATIONS LTD.

    Appointment Date: 30/11/1991
    Position: Director
    Occupation: Retired
    Company Status: Active

    Check for credit report

    Address:

    UNIT 20 TOWER WORKSHOPS
    58 RILEY ROAD
    LONDON
    SE1 3DG
    GB

  27. Jimmy said,

    Are they breaking the law having a small company!

  28. modernity's ghost said,

    It is silly for supposed Lefties to do Red Watch’s job for them and provide the name and address of people on the Left.

    The comment March 13, 2012 at 12:53 pm shows a remarkable lack of political common sense, and dare I say, stupidity.

    And if you are ignorant of Red Watch, read this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redwatch

    “Merseyside Trades Union Congress organiser Alec McFadden received death threats shortly after his details appeared on the website. At precisely the same time, Joe Owens, a Merseyside BNP candidate with several convictions for violent offences, began sending him emails gloating that he had photographic details of his house, car and family.[10] Since standing as a Respect – The Unity Coalition candidate in the May 2006 elections, McFadden has been physically attacked, including being stabbed in the face at his home.[11]

    In May 2006, a Polish political activist was attacked and stabbed, requiring surgery. He stated that he believed the attack was linked to his recent listing on the Polish version of the website.[12] In March 2008, the attacker, a member of the neo-Nazi Blood and Honour, was sentenced to ten years imprisonment for attempted murder.”

  29. Jim Denham said,

    “Emma”: quite apart from Mod’s points above (and I have removed some personal details from your comment, perhaps belatedly), you are either very ignorant or very dishonest…or, most likely, both.

    Livingstone is a wealthy man using a tax dodge to further his own personal wealth. Matgamna is, by any UK standards, a poor man who lives a frugal lifestyle and who has arranged his affairs in order to help fund a revolutionary socialist organisation. A pretty fundamental difference to anyone capable of a moment’s thought.

  30. modernity's ghost said,

    Jim,

    Be a canny idea, if you removed the DOB and link as the address is there, as well

  31. SteveH said,

    Classic Sectarian politics.

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