Vir Cantium

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The Ken Livingstone Memoirs: Publish And Be Damned Awkward

So it’s memoir season for the Blairites, which on the face of it shouldn’t unduly bother Ken Livingstone, but his own departure will still be fresh in the mind and publishers’ advances must seem somewhat more enticing when the ink is only just dry on the P45 and the mortgage is still to be paid.

So here’s an interesting question: when will Red Ken publish his own record of the ups and downs of life on the left in the last thirty years? Let’s look at some of his options:

He could publish this year. It’s not as if he hasn’t a little time on his hands, and what better way to spend the summer? For a little while, the chapters on the Blair years, of smashing the New Labour machine before running for a second term with its backing, will still have some relevancy. That is, while Gordon is still keeping the seat in the Number 10 study warm for David Cameron. Perhaps more relevant will be the usefulness of an autobiography in the context of whatever job offer(s) Ken might be mulling over – or fishing for – later this year.

However, any publication near the Labour party conference in September may be less than helpful for the party – the party which Ken, so far, has not appeared to want to hurt. Publication around that time would remind everyone of that Black Thursday in May and draw attention away from Gordon’s umpteenth fightback (though that might be doing GB a favour), and help, perhaps unwittingly or otherwise, to stir the political pot. Publication after September, then, might be less problematic, and in good time for some parliamentary selections.

Option two would be publication after this year, but before the General Election. The relevance of the recent history will be decaying at a rapid rate, but it will be coming out after Boris’ expected honeymoon period, when Ken might hope to remind people how good things were under his own, errrm, benevolent reign. However, as James Forsyth notes, the City Hall audit may uncover some inconvenient facts during this time. However, leave it too close to May 2010 and not only would it again be unhelpful to Labour’s election campaign, but possibly too late to have any impact on his chances for selection for a cosy parliamentary seat (assuming there will still be any Labour safe seats)*.

Clearly if he waits until after 2010, then it will be a true political anorak’s almanac. He can forget serialisation rights. It will be the memoirs of a political giant of the Left, a la Tony Benn. In which case, he might as well wait ten years, though that’s an awfully long time to be filling your time looking forward to your next session sitting gloomily in the London Assembly’s public gallery, hoping that some future Labour Mayoral candidate might remember to offer you a job.

* Ah, which constituency to woo – Bethnal Green & Bow perhaps?

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