Sunday, January 25, 2009

London Progressive Conference

This was well worth attending yesterday and a surprising good use of a wet and windy London Saturday in January.

“London Progressive” was set up by Ken Livingstone after he lost the London Mayor election to Boris.

Its web site states that it is a “a unique coalition, launched by Ken Livingstone, and involving people and views from across the political, cultural, community, generational and artistic spectrum, to promote the kinds of progressive policies which have made London such a success and a place where people from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds can be themselves and come together around common goals”.

This is a pretty ambitious goal. Still, any coalition that can get the deputy leader of the Labour Party, Harriet Harman, to attend alongside leaders of the Greens and Liberal Democrats has not only got ambition but quite some pull. Mind you, the utterly vile Gorgeous One was also apparently there, as was Mr McNoHoper MP.

There were of course plenty of rumours circulating about what Ken hopes to get out of this coalition. Many feel he is angling to be the Labour Party candidate for London Mayor for 2012 (which I think is pretty much a given if he is chosen) or is he keen to build up a coalition similar to that of 2000 so he can stand as an independent in 2012? I don’t think so and I think that if he thought that he would have never rejoined the Party. The most Machiavelli theory was that Ken is building up support in the expectation that Labour will get a hammering in 2010 and he will be parachuted into Parliament as a leadership candidate. Yeah.

While the “nice but dim” trots in Workers Liberty dismiss Ken as a “fake career leftist” – whatever that means.

London Politics is obviously different to national since we have a PR system in City Hall and it appears that with Boris at least, all the democratic opposition political parties have an incentive to work together. Boris is after all very much a unifying Politician (to his critics).

It was certainly very well attended. The main conference hall at Congress House was packed with all seats taken and people having to stand at the back. There was a refreshing absence of head bangers. Harriet had some very silly heckling but the vast majority of participants told them in no uncertain words to shut up. She did really well and got the best cheer I think of the day. The seminars I attended were also packed with many standing up because there were no seats left. The lifts in Congress House are subject to conservation orders and are clearly inadequate to transporting lots of people from room to room, so to get anywhere in time, you need to use the stairs. Very green and pro public health.

I will post on the various seminars I attended and speeches during the next week. There was some really interesting debate and comment. It was also a bloggers delight since a lot was going on politically and it was great opportunity to chat and network with lots of people face to fact that you have only met previously on line. There is still no absolute alternative to such personal contact. It was a good day.
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