Sunday, 14 November 2010

Pipe Vs Pickles: but will Ken be more dangerous?

Mayor Pipe & Eric Pickles MP

“I need no lectures from you on efficiency,” Jules Pipe told Eric Pickles, minister in charge of imposing cuts on councils like Hackney. The report came via the Local Government Chronicle chief reporter's blog - about the London Councils summit (pics) on November 6.

According to LGC blog there had: "been an exchange of letters between the two in the previous week and it seems Mr Pickles had come to the event in combative mood."

But our mayor seems to have done well: "With Mr Pipe remaining cool and collected - and remaining diplomatic - and Mr Pickles becoming increasingly angry and rattled." (Another account of it here)

It seems mayor Pipe is becoming an important figure in battle against the coalition cuts. On Thursday he said as much in his 'Talking Point' - on the letters page of the Hackney Gazette: "I have called on the government to think again and I'm lobbying them on behalf of Hackney and councils across London..."

But Pipe has a more subtle problem than Eric Pickles as he becomes a London-wide player. It seems London politicians are experiencing a cross-party unity against coalition government cuts (not on moral grounds. Apparently Conservative outer London boroughs are worried by the threat of an influx of Labour voting folk shifted from inner city boroughs by benefit cuts).

The problems will come if there's any sign that Johnson might win concessions for London's poor. Would Ken Livingstone allow Labour politicians like Pipe to help Johnson score a London victory as the London Mayoral elections approach?

Although the fates of poor people in London look like they are bound up with the Labour Party, Johnson's stance - probably prompted by Labour boroughs - throws a spanner in the works for Ken.

So could Ken Livingstone and Jules Pipe contemplate undermining Johnson if a political battle with Cameron gathers pace? Who knows? May be, in the very long run, it would be better for Hackney's poorest if Johnson doesn't succeed. But any assumption that the well-being of Hackney is solidly intertwined with the fate of the Labour Party should probably be suspended until after the next batch of elections.

Also, Hackney has two MPs and one Mayor whose attentions are diverted beyond Hackney's borders. They all see their jobs as fighting cuts for the nation as a whole, hopefully they won't use it as an excuse to avoid what De Beauvoir councillors predict predict will be "devastating decisions" about Hackney.


  1. "Johnson's stance - probably prompted by Labour boroughs - throws a spanner in the works for Ken."
    How does Johnson defying his party line and performing a policy U-Turn do anything but hand a propaganda gift to Livingstone.
    If it does anything, surely it heralds the birth of Red Boris, champion of Hackney Claimants Union. Before you know it, Cameron will disband the London Assembly and sell the building to Japanese developers.

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