Red Ken’s Bag of Tricks

    Furious mayor fails to block TV ‘hatchet job’
    Sam Jones
    The Guardian
    January 22, 2008

    Channel 4 documentary [Dispatches: The Court of Ken] attacks one of the country’s most controversial political figures, already facing allegations over key advisers and a Trotskyite plot to take over the capital…

    While in Melbourne:

    Bid to curb race row over property
    Eleni Hale
    Sunday Herald Sun
    January 20, 2008

    THE Brumby Government is considering buying a $7 million CBD property at the heart of a race row. The city car park in the middle of Lonsdale St’s Greek precinct is owned by Asian property tycoon David Yu [AusVest Holdings]. Prominent Greeks, who claim their precinct is becoming a second Chinatown, have put an ambitious plan to Premier John Brumby to compulsorily acquire Mr Yu’s lot. They want a cultural hub – featuring statues, eateries and live Greek entertainment – to replace the dingy car park. Mayor John So, who has strong links to the CBD Chinese business community and is believed to be friends with Mr Yu, has shunned the plan…

When I think ‘Ken Livingstone’, I don’t think ‘revolutionary’, I think ‘ESF 2004’, ‘Lee Jasper’ and ‘wankers’. Anyway, it’s been “exposed” that Ken’s been at the heart of a vewy vewy secwet Marxist cell called “Socialist Action” (The Sunday Times, January 20, 2008): ‘KEN LIVINGSTONE is embroiled in fresh controversy after allegations that his most senior aides have been members of a Trotskyite faction that plotted to turn London into a “socialist city state”’.

Yeah right.

Red Ken’s choice of advisory staff and financial largesse has also come under scrutiny from Nick Cohen (author of the execrable What’s Left?) in ‘Why Ken Livingstone is not fit for office’ (The Guardian, January 20, 2008). Jack Ray is of the opinion that Mr. Cohen is a “nasty little red-baiting scumbag”, which is harsh, but possibly fair — dunno. Anyway, Jack reckons “a Trot must have bullied him at school of something, but he has this kind of fury at the Far Left that usually only out-and-out fascists can sustain”. Maybe. But as far as I’m aware, the real sea-change for Cohen occurred as a result of The War on Terror®. This, in turn, possibly a result of what he feels is the corruption of the secular Left by radical Islam. Like, at the February 2003 anti-war demonstration in London…

Apparently, ‘Socialist Action’ traces its history back to the Workers’ Revolutionary Party (est. 1947), famous for having the Redgraves as members, Gerry Healy‘s sexual abuse, spying for Saddam and using Trotsky’s death mask as a totem. The WRP later gave birth to the Workers’ Socialist League and the Workers’ Party, the Socialist Group (1983–1987, later the International Socialist Group/Socialist Outlook) and others.

I’m sure there’s a flowchart somewhere.

In fact, Socialist Action — “You can e-mail us at: [email protected]” — has a great trainspotting history.

    It was founded in 1982 when the International Marxist Group entered the Labour Party. Officially named the Socialist League, it became universally known by the name of its publication, Socialist Action. Its character changed in a wave of splits in the mid-1980s, beginning in 1985 when a minority… formed the International Group, which in 1987 merged with the Socialist Group to form the International Socialist Group and publish Socialist Outlook. The remaining majority of the Socialist League consisted of two factions. One, the pro-Socialist Workers Party (USA) faction, was led by Brian Grogan. The majority faction was led by John Ross. In 1988, the Grogan minority split to form the Communist League – the British co-thinkers of the Pathfinder tendency…

Anyway, history has now seemingly fully absolved the mob that eventually formed around Ken, most of whom appear to have placed Hegel very successfully on his feet, and landed quite firmly on theirs. That said, as Dave says, such stuff is “what anybody in the least interested in such things has known full well since 2000; many of London mayor Ken Livingstone’s six-figure salary bag carriers are or were members of a small far left grouplet known as Socialist Action.” Then again, Dave also writes: “First, full disclosure. As I said, I am longer a Trotskyist” (I think he means “First, full disclosure. As I said, I am no longer a Trotskyist”).

Somebody called Marc Wadsworth, on the other hand, dishes the dirt on the Socialist Action mob in the stirringly-titled ‘Militant’ Political Plotters Who Run City Hall.

See also : Atma Singh’s full article on Ken Livingstone, The Sunday Times, January 19, 2008; ‘Trotskyites ran Ken Livingstone’s campaigns’, David Sanderson, The Times, January 21, 2008; Press Release : The Greater London Authority and Mr Atma Singh, January 20, 2008; For a working class campaign against fascism, Workers’ Liberty, January 19, 2008 (“Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and the Searchlight organisation — a group that produces a monthly anti-fascist magazine and runs some local campaign groups — have major political faults. UAF is essentially a political coalition of the Socialist Workers Party and Socialist Action — a small Stalinist sect close to Ken Livingstone. It claims the support of most major trade unions and a variety of religious organisations. The political foundations of UAF are built upon the SWP’s interpretation of the United Front tactic.”).

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2024 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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6 Responses to Red Ken’s Bag of Tricks

  1. Rob Ray says:

    My brother did a blog on this as well at

  2. @ndy says:


    I’ve added a few lines.


  3. Asher says:

    Great minds think alike, Rob…

    @ndy, you should enable that thing whereby once a poster has one post approved, the rest show up without moderation. Then you’d get more comments from cool people like me.

  4. @ndy says:

    Hey Ash,

    Not a bad idea but… I’ve approved comments by all kindsa odds and sods, and if I took that route, I’d be afraid of what I might find.


  5. Asher says:

    Then I shall continue my valiant boycott of this blog! Or continue to comment not that often, at least… is there a way to approve for only some? You could switch that thing on, but when you approve a comment from a dodgy fuck add their name to the auto-moderation list, although that would be a bit of work for little reward I guess.

    Never mind.

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