Last night the BBC, between talking about possible cuts to,er, the BBC, also managed to break the story that Ken Livingstone has campaigned for Lutfur Rahman in the Tower Hamlets mayoral election. That may not seem like big news until you realise that Rahman is not the official Labour Party candidate in that election. He is standing as an independent against the official Labour candidate.
Party rules are very clear on the matter.
“A member of the party who joins and/or supports a political organisation other than an official Labour group or other unit of the party, or supports any candidate who stands against an official Labour candidate, or publicly declares their intent to stand against a Labour candidate, shall automatically be ineligible to be or remain a party member….”
That’s Chapter 2, Rule A(4)(b) of the Labour Party Rules should you wish to check my facts.
Ken has been on the doorstep supporting a candidate who is standing against an official Labour candidate. Therefore, according to Labour rules, he is no longer eligible to stay a party member. Simple.
Though of course, it’s not simple at all is it? In theory Ed Miliband and the National Executive Committee don’t have to actively do anything. Livingstone has effectively left the Party through the act of supporting Rahman.
But, undoubtably, Ken will appeal this judgement. And the NEC (of which Livingstone is supposed to be a member) will remember the late nineties stitch-up where we ended up with Frank Dobson as our candidate and Ken won as an independent. They won’t want to repeat that particular outcome, so may look for a way of keeping him in the Party.
So will we see more of Ed Miliband’s now-famous ruthless streak or will the NEC bottle it and let Ken do whatever he pleases?
Personally, I’m hoping to see Labour’s nominations for Mayor of London reopened, though I doubt that’s what I’ll get.
- Tower Hamlets: Labour hits the road (guardian.co.uk)