By Chris Reynolds
Ken Livingstone's response to the strike on the London Underground should prove, if proof were ever needed, that Livingstone is no kind of principled socialist or indeed any kind of decent political choice for working class people.
Let's say this plainly, Livingstone was not making critical remarks about the tactics of the RMT union or urging the RMT to accept a particular pay deal last week. He was advocating RMT members should cross picket lines on 29-30 June - he was urging people to scab.
This is a disgrace.
This goes against the most important and the most ABC principle that every labour movement person should hold dear. As Bob Crow put it, "the 11th commandment is `thou shalt not cross a picket line'."
This latest turn from Livingstone is entirely in keeping with his perception of his job: to be responsible to London's big business and let the ordinary people of London go hang.
Livingstone's main claim for success as Mayor of London is increased spending on police. When thousands of almost entirely peaceful anti-capitalist protesters filled central London on May Day 2001, Livingstone denounced them and praised the police who responded by encircling groups of protesters with police cordons and holding them in street spaces, impromptu open-air jails, for several hours.
As Mayor he has allied with City financiers and big business to press for more office skyscrapers and run a joint campaign for British entry into the euro. At the start of his term as London Mayor, he appointed Steve Norris, his Tory opponent in the 2000 and 2004 elections to the board of Transport for London.
Solidarity and Workers' Liberty opposed Livingstone's expulsion from Labour in 2000. But we have also consistently criticised Livingstone for the left-wing charlatan that he is. He has a long record of talking left and selling out.
As leader of the old Greater London Council in May 1981, Livingstone abandoned the Labour GLC's plans for open battle against the then Tory government within eight months.
Come early 1985, 12 Labour councils had voted for a fight with the Tories over 'rate-capping' (limits imposed by central government on what local property taxes they could raise). A real battle might just have saved the miners' strike, which finally collapsed on 3 March.
Livingstone, through complex manoeuvres, engineered a GLC budget which complied with the Tory legislation. Abandoned by the GLC, the other councils collapsed, though not immediately.
Livingstone sacked his then deputy GLC leader, John McDonnell; publicly distanced himself from the hard left; and said he wanted reconciliation with the then Labour Party leadership under Neil Kinnock.
In 2000 the Blairites' main objection to Livingstone was that he opposed privatisation of the infrastructure of the Tube (track and maintenance). Once elected, Livingstone launched court cases to obstruct the privatisation, but the scheme finally went through on 8 April 2003, and he scaled down his complaint to one about "the best method of financing for the Tube". Management of the network was transferred from central government to 'Transport for London', a body run by the Mayor, on 15 July 2003. Livingstone appointed Bob Kiley, a former CIA agent with a record of taming unions, to run Transport for London. Kiley is paid £500,000 a year.
Late last year members of the RMT union struck against the sacking of a Tube driver, Chris Barrett. Livingstone denounced the strike and said he didn't know why management had let Barrett 'get away with it' for so long.
Now Livingstone denounces and tries to break the tube workers for keeping up their fight for decent wages and conditions. It is a despicable action from a self-serving career politician.
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