Ha Ha! The Tories Lose London

6.5.16

"Tories out" graffiti.Good news for a change, as the Tories definitively lose control of London (OK, I’m slightly jumping the gun, but the Guardian is reporting that “Sadiq Khan ‘has won’ London mayoral race,” and Jeremy Corbyn has already sent Khan his congratulations). The Tories, who were already down in terms of MPs after last year’s General Election (when 45 of the capital’s 73 Parliamentary seats went to Labour), have now lost the Mayor, with Labour’s Sadiq Khan soundly beating Zac Goldsmith, and in the capital-wide elections for members of the Greater London Assembly, with 14 of the 25 seats counted, Labour had nine seats (a gain of one), and the Tories had five (a loss of one). The BBC reported that 43% of Londoners had voted Labour, 31% had voted Tory, and the Green Party had come third.

This is good news for Sadiq Khan, of course, but also for Jeremy Corbyn, in his first electoral test as Labour Party leader, and for the Labour Party as a whole the results are a vindication of his leadership — especially satisfying after the artificial anti-Semitism row that Labour right-wingers and a throughly unprincipled mainstream media were all too delighted to promote. At the time of writing Labour had held almost all its council seats across England, and had also held 29 seats in Wales (just short of a majority). The only dimmed light is in Scotland, where the SNP continues to replace them as the party of the left — and where, shockingly, the Tories pushed them into third place.

In London, of course, the Tories persistently shot themselves in the foot. Zac Goldsmith failed to connect with people and looked like he didn’t want the job — and it’s interesting to see how people aren’t fooled by a lack of desire for the job. However, his woes multiplied in the last few weeks when he hired the black propagandist Lynton Crosby, the Australian who has been behind the Tories’ relentlessly black propaganda for the last six years, which, it is important to note, is single-handedly responsible for the horrendous increase in the petty hatreds that have come to typify modern Britain — dominated, in particular, by racism, but also targeting anyone vulnerable, as can be seen by the government’s relentless assault on the unemployed and the disabled.

In the last few weeks of the campaign, Goldsmith tried to smear Sadiq Khan for his association with alleged terrorist sympathisers, but all that was achieved was to alienate London’s large Muslim community, many members of which, it turned out, were natural Tory voters, being, by and large, socially conservative. The main focus of the Tories’ own goal was Muslim community organiser and human rights campaigner Suliman Gani, who Goldsmith described as a “repellent” individual, based on false claims that he is some sort of extremist, while failing to remember that he had actually been photographed with Gani, and failing to do any research to establish that Gani is a man of peace who despises extremism, and also that he had been very strongly inclined to vote Conservative.

Prime Minister David Cameron them jumped into the fray, disgracefully alleging that Gani was a supporter of Islamic State (IS), when nothing could be further from the truth, as the journalist Peter Oborne demonstrated in a hard-hitting column on Monday, Open letter to Downing Street: You still owe Suliman Gani an apology, and as myself and others have demonstrated by launching a petition on Change.org, “David Cameron must apologise to Suliman Gani,” which I encourage you to sign, as we seek to hold David Cameron accountable for his disgraceful lies and distortions.

Last night, I’m glad to note, Andrew Boff, the leader of the Tories on the GLA, laid into Goldsmith’s campaign. He said the negative campaigning about Muslims “was effectively saying that people of conservative religious views are not to be trusted and you should not share a platform with them. That’s outrageous.” He added that the campaign had “done real damage” and had “blown up bridges” the Conservatives had built with London’s Muslim communities, and today Lady Warsi, the former chairman of the Tory party, tweeted that Goldsmith’s campaign “lost us the election, our reputation & credibility on issues of race and religion.”

Anything that damages the Tories is to be welcomed, after the last six years of ideologically-motivated austerity, in which the poor, the unemployed and the disabled have been victimised in particular, hard-working people have been — and continue to be — relentlessly squeezed (across class barriers, and with a devastating effect on almost anyone who is young), and everything has been done that is possible to make the rich richer and to facilitate the dominance of the global super-rich.

In London, the dominant theme of Tory rule under the colossally self-serving Boris Johnson has — with central government backing — been an unfettered housing bubble, including the creation of swathes of overpriced housing in ever taller tower blocks, across the city as a whole, a squeeze on social housing, and the lack of any limits on private rents, which have spiralled out of control, extorting an ever-increasing amount of the weekly pay of hard-working Londoners from all walks of life, and facilitating the growth of a whole new legion of despicable slum landlords.

So it’s good riddance to Boris, whose political career will, hopefully, sink if we vote to stay in the EU in six weeks’ time — and what a wasted eight years it has been for the people of London in general. I hope never again to have to put up with so many people seduced by a privileged clown who is allegedly funny, when (a) he isn’t, and (b) being funny is the qualification for a comedian, not for a politician in charge of a globally important city.

Good news politically is rare in the UK. At 16, I watched helplessly, too young to vote, as Margaret Thatcher was elected Prime Minister and proceeded to burn Britain to the ground to satiate her hatred of the working class, and to shift the country’s focus to one based on greed, a miserable and poisonous legacy that has dominated my entire adult life.

Thatcher made my 20s miserable, although she couldn’t completely destroy the spirit of dissent, as the sudden and unexpected emergence of the rave scene at the end of the ’80s demonstrated, along with the widespread resistance to the hated poll tax. The John Major years were, in hindsight, a time when the establishment’s grip on society was shockingly weak, as young people undermined them repeatedly, raving, road protesting and refusing to accept the dull conformity and the yawning chasm between rich and poor that is central to a greed-based, selfish society.

Then we had Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, who, of course, were, more than anything, a continuation of Tory rule, and a disappointment in myriad ways — not just because of Blair’s crusader-like support for the illegal invasion of Iraq and the enthusiastic embrace of George W. Bush’s cruel, inept and misconceived “war on terror,” but also because of the party’s embrace of the City, banks and corporations as the drivers of policy, and the placing of a huge housing bubble as the heart of the economy, which, of course, was a precursor to the current bubble under the Tories, and was only derailed — temporarily — by the banker-led global crash of 2008, for which no one has been held accountable. And it was this crisis, of course, which, with an almost inconceivable sleight of hand, facilitated the rise of the Tories under David Cameron and George Osborne and their various cabinets of cruel and inadequate ministers, and their nasty austerity scam that continues to plague us.

So against this backdrop, I can’t help but rejoicing in the fall of the Tories in London, and the widespread demonstration of support for Jeremy Corbyn, as a socialist leader of the Labour Party. For London’s sake, I hope Sadiq Khan remembers that the people of London don’t need Boris-lite, but need someone who genuinely cares about them and is not afraid to embrace socialism, but for now, at least, I’d like to congratulate him, a Muslim, and the son of bus driver, on becoming London’s Mayor — and helping to deal a major blow to the credibility of the Tories that, I fervently hope, is a taste of much more to come.

Note: In celebration, why not have a listen to my band The Four Fathers playing my song, Tory Bullshit Blues? I’m happy to tell you that, yesterday, on Election Day, myself and band member Richard Clare re-recorded it, with me delivering a new vocal performance and Richard playing a new guitar part on his recently-purchased and rather beautiful Ibanez guitar. I’ll be making the new version available as a download very soon, as well as another version we recorded yesterday for the US market, Neo-Liberal Bullshit Blues, which features slightly amended lyrics — mentioning Ronald Reagan instead of Thatcher, and Donald Trump.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album, ‘Love and War,’ is available for download or on CD via Bandcamp — also see here). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

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28 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    OK, so I’m slightly jumping the gun here, but based on the first preference count (Sadiq Khan on 44%, Zac Goldsmith on 35%), it’s expected that Khan will be the winner, giving the Tories a well-deserved bloody nose in the capital, and bringing to an end Boris Johnson’s dismal eight years as Mayor, presiding over an ever-increasing chasm between the rich and poor. Good to see the Tories’ shamefully racist negative campaigning being punished at the ballot box, and good to see Labour’s support, under Jeremy Corbyn, holding up across the country – with the exception of Scotland, where, rather than anything else, what has happened is that the SNP has become the party of the left.

  2. damo says...

    Hooooray bye bye blow job,lol he,s gone,he,s gone……the super rich must be shitting themselves now we can kick the fuckers out of our city get going you fuckers and dont come back ….right mr khan do wot you say your gonna do…rebuild our city for the people …make it a great city again…….hooray boris is gone…….hooooray….

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, good riddance to bad rubbish, eh, Damo? I am so glad to see the back of Boris, and, as I say, I hope he sinks with the Brexit campaign. Now we’re going to need to be ready to put pressure on Sadiq to be “our” Mayor and not “theirs,” but let’s celebrate finally getting rid of the repulsive Boris!

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks to everyone liking and sharing this. Still awaiting final confirmation of the results.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Khawar Haider wrote:

    That’s very amusing Andy Worthington !

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Oooh yes, I very much hope so, Khawar!

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    And while we’re awaiting the results, let’s all breathe a sign of relief, shall we, that the selfish showman Boris Johnson, England’s Donald Trump, is finally out of office. What a miserable eight years of p*ss-poor leadership that’s been …

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Whoop! Sadiq Khan wins! Zac Goldsmith loses. Bye bye, Boris!
    First preference – 150K for Greens. 909K for Goldsmith. 1,148,716 for Sadiq Khan.
    Second preference – 161,427 for Sadiq. Total = 1,310,143.
    84,859 for Zaq. Total = 994,614.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Lubna ‘Bonnie’ Karim wrote:

    Congrats Andy good thing Trumps not coming this way I guess!

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Lubna. Good to hear from you!

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Zarina Bhatia wrote:

    It depends on what he will turn out to be!

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, of course, Zarina. I think Sadiq Khan will need a lot of prompting and pushing and cajoling (and maybe more), but I’d much prefer to have a Labour Mayor than a Tory, as the Tories have shown nothing but contempt for the democratic process over the last six years, disregarding every obstacle they don’t like (in the Lords, for example). I’m also enjoying how much the Tories will be upset tonight, and how in general they forgotten how multi-cultual London is, and what a result it is to have a Mayor who isn’t white.

  13. damo says...

    The tories have been sucker punched …blam….right in the face ,lol they must have soiled there little nappies ….mummy,mummy,i cant beweave wat we have a johnny foriener as mayor….mummy,mummy ….help …mummy…lol they must be shitting themselves …all those global super rich leeches are not going to be pleased …this is were the hard work begins scrubbing london clean from the stench of boris ……but its no time to relax…..the tories have lost london….and just like the pityfull ,pathetic ,inadaquate public school boys ….they will wont revenge …..and being the sniverling cowards they are they will go after the weakest even harder …they will more than likely be plotting now ….sitting there with bottles of fizz and jam sandwiches….plotting i wouldnt be supprised if osbourne anounces an emergancy budget……..watch out…

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Ha! Some great imagery there, Damo, of the Tories’ anger and incredulity that they lost London to the Muslim son of a Pakistani bus driver.
    Unfortunately, my big fear is what Sadiq Khan will or won’t do. This is where the problem of his shiftiness comes in. He distanced himself from Jeremy Corbyn throughout his campaign; fair enough, that makes him his own man, and his whopping victory shows that it didn’t cost him in terms of votes. But did he do so to avoid being set upon by the mainstream media, who, as we know, with only a few exceptions are absolutely committed to undermining Jeremy and trying to oust him, or because he doesn’t want to inject a massive dose of socialism into London politics? We know he nominated Jeremy when he first stood for the leadership race last year, but if he won’t embrace the leadership’s socialism he won’t be able to effect positive change – and he has to be willing to take on Osborne or he’ll be generally powerless.
    Anyway, let’s see. I actually want to get involved with people pitching ideas for housing policy to him. I do believe he’ll listen, unlike Boris.

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Pam Arnold wrote:

    pretty close, wait and see what this bloke does

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    I think Sadiq Khan won resoundingly, Pam, but as you say let’s see what he does – although I think waiting is too passive. We need to take ideas to him.

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Pam Arnold wrote:

    he wants a third runway, thats my next battle, he changedhis mind, we have all been terribly sick and asthma with kids highest beneath flight path, I think he will sell out..his love of israel for starters

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, I worry about how malleable he is, Pam. Big business is ruthless and generally has no interest in the welfare of the people of London in general, but will he stand up to the corporate bullies? I suspect your sell-out comment is accurate, which is why we need to be prepared to exert huge pressure on him to do the right thing.

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    Pam Arnold wrote:

    Goldsmith got almost a million!!!

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    As for Goldsmith getting almost a milion votes, Pam – no surprise there, but if there are only a million Tories left in London we’ve surely got the upper hand. There are many, many more of us!

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    The GLA results are now in. Labour don’t have overall control, but these are the figures:

    Labour 12 (no change)
    Conservative 8 (1 loss)
    Green 2 (no change)
    UKIP 2 (oh dear)
    Liberal Democrat 1 (1 loss)

  22. Andy Worthington says...

    Pam Arnold wrote:

    like your optimism andy..inclined to agree with you

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    🙂 Pam!

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    Dejanka Bryant wrote:

    I congratulate Khan for winning. Now, let’s see how he will perform first of all. He is a Blairite, which means big businesses will be consulted. What Pam said about runway and rising number of asthma sufferers in London is truly alarming. Of course, we are left by lying car manufacturing corporations to suffocate us on streets and motorways with nitrogen-oxide, poison, pumping it through exhausts of cars, deliberately sold on market with faulty software to hide the criminality, every single day. Instead to remove those cars from the society, there was only a resignation of Volkswagen CEO head, bit of compensations to customers, still pending. It’s a massive fraud. We just sit like idiots congratulating head of Volkswagen for his honesty and resignation instead of being paid full money in compensation for purchasing a poisiouns car. It matters. More people are dying from severe asthma attacks. He should be bloody in jail, not enjoying his freedom with obscene profit from shares on selling faulty and dangerous cars. Sadly, it’s not only Volkswagen, but many other car manufacturers. Plus living under flight paths, as Pam mentioned. Look, today is gorgeous sunny weather. When I looked at the map of pollution in London, it is moderate with “smiley” face on it. It means we should be so grateful for it. “Low” air polution means nothing to us. “Green city” with more and more cyclists and people walking down streets suffocated by nitrogen-oxide. Dire situation! Even scientists said you are not protected from the poison if you sit in the car with closed windows. The polution inside the car is the same as outside. This is only a fraction of many, many, problems.

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    Pam Arnold wrote:

    right dejanka..pushing my grandkids in theur buggies I tried to put the plastic over it as they are right by the exhausts..they werent having ut unless it was raining but I was serious and afraid of course..the pollution in london is killing us

  26. Andy Worthington says...

    At least we have a very hard-working Green MP in Parliament and two Green representatives on the GLA, but it’s not enough, Dejanka and Pam. The tendency of mainstream politics, sadly, is to sidestep environmental issues, which is why we’ll need to put pressure on Sadiq Khan. I agree with you both that pollution is a huge problem, generally not discussed. I cycle every day, and I despair at the number of cars and other vehicles on the roads, but I’m aware that pollution doesn’t look as bad as it did in the days of industrial smog so people don’t generally think about it, and I’m also aware how mainstream politicians never tackle car use – beyond Ken Livingstone’s Congestion Charge, which at the time was incredibly brave politically. So yesterday I was imagining just one day a year when cars (and other vehicles) were banned in London – Car Free Day. Can you imagine anyone seriously proposing it? Or the uproar if it was proposed? People are not, in general, at all enlightened, sadly.

  27. Andy Worthington says...

    Khawar Haider wrote:

    It did take an awful long time in announcing the Mayoral results! I wonder why? All day long it was the repeat of the results of Scotland and England local elections . Finally from here and there I settled for Sadiq Khan’s victory! Actually Sky News did confirm it. But the BBC said that Sadiq Khan looks to be the likely winner. I found it quite tiring ! I look forward to the Mayoral Ceremony Andy Worthington!

  28. Andy Worthington says...

    Perhaps they hoped everyone would be asleep by then, Khawar. The establishment – which includes a lot of people who think they’re liberals – is, as we know, horrendously biased against Jeremy Corbyn, and I’m sure many of them will now be gunning for Sadiq Khan.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer (The State of London).
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