Oona King

I am surprised at how positive I am about the news that Oona King is standing to be Labour’s candidate for London mayor. Surprised not because I previously thought Oona sucked, but because I’d approached the Mayoral selection with a sense of weary inevitability that we’d end up either with Ken or with someone rather dull and unimaginative.

Of course, there’s a long way to go before people make up their minds, but there’s a lot to like about Oona as a candidate – she’s direct and straightforward, and in a Mayoral election that authenticity is a very good thing.

She also lost a tough fight. I’ve mentioned before that I instinctively prefer candidates who’ve not had it easy for their entire political career and Oona’s experience of  a public defeat while fighting the good fight (against someone I think is a political fraud and a blemish on the face of politics)  makes me warm to her a lot.

Oona showed real bravery in standing up for something she thought was right when it was definitely going to be electorally damaging for her, and that’s a quality worth admiring.

The big challenges for London over the next few years are going to be about the three Fs. Finances, Fares and Future growth. (OK, that last F was a bit lame, I admit)

Whoever is the next Mayor of London will have to deal with huge pressures on policing, transport and local council budgets. That will have knock on effects on crime, on housing, on how the City feels to live in.

Boris Johnson has basically punted on all these big issues. He’s put bus fares up, fiddled around with the western Congestion charge and new routemasters, cut back policing budgets but claimed it hasn’t made an impact, and tried to leverage more money out of central government to solve his problems while taking credit for holding Council Tax down.

On the big issues, like Crossrail, Boris Johnson’s position is that he’s been willing to take the credit if government pays the bills.  The next mayor won’t be so lucky. They’ll be facing a government whose instinct is to squeeze. The Mayor’s job will be show how supporting  private sector growth requires strong infrastructure spend, that a strong city needs an affordable transport network, to keep pressure up on policing and anti-social behaviour, while  trying to build more housing in a very cash strapped and developer unfriendly environment.

Each of these will be a tough, tough mission. Someone who can stand up to government, not be dismissed out of hand, and keep the fight going is needed.

In other words, the one thing that is required is the willingness to make yourself unpopular in Whitehall and in Council Chambers in the cause of what’s right, and Oona’s definitely shown that quality.

We need a mayor with the ability to stand up to central government, is willing to take tough decisions, and who can relate to the challenges of life in London – whether in Hackney, Tooting or Bromley. 

I think Oona King could do that.

FULL DISCLOSURE AND BIAS ALERT: Oona King was part of the judging panel that Shortlisted me for the Orwell Prize. I was trying to work out whether I should be biassed towards her for Shortlisting me for the Orwell Prize or biassed against her for giving it to someone else.

It probably evens out.

18 Responses to “Oona King”

  1. Newmania

    Oh yes indeed a fiercely independent spirit our Ooona , look how she avoided grovelling to Brown…

    ” ( I ).… watched Gordon brown deliver his pre budget report. He wiped the floor . The Tories hardly bothered to attack. No disrespect to my husband when I say that listening to Gordon at his best is better than sex”( The Eye)…


  2. Huw Clayton

    Slightly OT, but George Galloway apparently asked a then (Labour) colleague “Why do people take an instant dislike to me?”

    He got the answer, “Because it saves time.”

    So you’re not alone Hopi!

  3. bert

    Hopi, I agree with you whole heartedly about Galloway – he’s a reptile. He’s even more loathsome than Ed Balls.

    Regarding King, I whole heartedly disagree with you. I think she would be profoundly out of her depth as London mayor – and that’s assuming Boris will lose or stand down (which he won’t).

    By the way, I do wish you would stop saying “biassed” – it’s effin’ biased!!

  4. CS Clark

    Oona-Boris debates would be worth seeing. Listening to, even. I wonder if the Lib Dems will bother running a strong candidate?

    And… Finances, Fares and Fiscal Fecundity? Or, following the 3Rs, Finances, Fares and Affluence?

  5. Alex Chalmers

    Most people are better than Boris Johnson, our most incompetent mayor of London yet.

    Oona King is very experienced, this has come as rather suprise to me, but I’m right behind her.

    • Chas

      ‘Oona King is very experienced…’ Really? Experienced at what, exactly? I’ve just looked up her CV, and it seems that her greatest talent is for self-promotion, but she doesn’t have much experience of anything. There’s lots of ‘diversity’ this and ‘anti-racism’ that, but she’s never earned an honest living.

      • Alex Chalmers

        Personally, I think having being an MP in the East End, which is still fairly impoverished in areas in a significant qualification.

        Yes Boris Johnson was an MP, but in affluent Henley, with low unemployment and a low crime rate.

  6. michael read

    Don’t bother with the article, Hopi.

    It’s Dave Hill. He’s commie, and dyed-in-his-bald-head a Ken.

    Oona is flaky. Ken is hard core. He’ll get the vote.

    But Johnson? Our boy’s got a bit of magic about him. He laughs. He tells good jokes, at his own expense, for G’s sake. That’s a conversion number; he does human.

    Ken has tractor plant employee written into his DNA.

    Vote for life. Vote for fun. Vote Boris.

  7. libertarian

    Oona King is experienced at what exactly? Why doesn’t Labour try and get some people into the party that actually do have some experience of say having a real job or better yet having run a small business. Maybe then when Labour leave office they won’t have spent all the money, trashed the economy and left 8 million people without a job but the proud owners of 3 busted banks

    • hopisen

      You mean like that well known small busisnessman Boris Johnson, whose career of journalism, editing, well paid column writing and appearing on tv quiz shows was a perfect… Oh. Wait.

      Or David cameron, who joined cchq from university, became a special adviser, then spent some time in business as spin doctor for a tv company, before being elected an MP

      Please try to be a little less silly.

    • SJ. Chandos

      Yes , this is mantra continually being parroted, at every opportunity, by politicans in this grubby coalition, that Labour’s alleged irresponsibility trashed the economy and left the current economic legacy. They are seeking to shift the blame and justify their forthcoming cuts programme.

      However, no one is fooled by the Con-Dem spin. We all know that the current deficit was created by he irresponsibility of the banks and the City. Now, who are the principal cheer leaders for the cuts, the very same city interests. They want the majority of the population to pay for the consequences of their disasterous speculation and capitalist systemic failure.

      This coalition is the government of the ruling class in the interests of the ruling class. No empty, populist appeal to radicalism and political reform can hide the class nature its cuts programme.

      Cutting public expenditure is the ‘first nature’ of the Tories, it has always been their response to every cyclical economic crisis. The Lib-Dems are their willing accomplices and their actions totally expose their pretensions to being part of the centre-left in this country.

    • Alex

      I, personally, would be very grateful if you could give me a list of the jobs that do and do not make suitable preparation for being a politician, and in particular those jobs which are “real” and those which are entirely pretend.

  8. SJ. Chandos

    London needs and deserves a committed politican of vision and political courage; a political heavy weight that will battle for the interests of Londoners and bring to the role a challenging political agenda based upon sustainability, social justice & empowement and the thoroughgoing, radical extension of participatory democracy in to the economic sphere.

    The current administration at the GLA has achieved nothing for London, particularly those boroughs with some of the worst social inequality and exclusion to be found anywhere in the UK. We need a radical leftist departure that recaptures something of the vision and innovation of the last GLC admnistration and develops a political agenda that empowers communities and challenges the status quo.

    We need to openly acknowledge Ken Livingstone’s past service to the capital, but (although vastly preferable to the current regime) I must admit that I was not too keen on aspects of his Mayoralty during the second term. Can he re-energise and bring new vision to the role? We shall see? In all honesty, and with due respect to her, I do not see Oona King as the answer and can only see her candidacy resulting in defeat.

    The Labour Party needs to go through a fundamental process of political reassessment and alignment to create a genuine centre-left force in British politics; challenging and rejecting central planks of the discredited ‘New’ Labour agenda. The London Mayoral election will provide an early opportunity to test the policies of a Labour Party that has refound its soul and developed a political programme that can appeal to and mobilise the natural centre-left majority in this country.

    I still await a candidate to come forward that convinces me that they are right for the job!

  9. Jack of Kent

    “FULL DISCLOSURE AND BIAS ALERT: Oona King was part of the judging panel that Shortlisted me for the Orwell Prize. I was trying to work out whether I should be biassed towards her for Shortlisting me for the Orwell Prize or biassed against her for giving it to someone else.

    It probably evens out.”

    You read my thoughts exactly :-)

    Very sorry to miss you at the ceremony.


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