Marc Wadsworth - The-Latest EXCLUSIVE
London Mayor Ken 'teflon' Livingstone has lost his famed non-stickability following weeks of news media coverage which has uncovered corruption at the heart of his City Hall administration. But while Livingstone, who is standing for re-election this year, has dismissed as a politically motivated 'smear campaign' claims about the misuse of millions of pounds of public funds what he cannot deny is that a shadowy group of Militant Tendency-type political plotters run his office.
This is hugely embarrassing for the New Labour of prime minister Gordon Brown which his supporters are at pains to present as free of the alleged left-wing extremists who pundits say ruined the party's chances of electoral success in the 1980s.
Labour leader Neil Kinnock used his 1985 speech to the party annual conference to famously denounce Militant-dominated Liverpool City Council. The council's deputy leader Derek Hatton and two Labour MPs, Dave Nellist and Terry Fields, who were also member of the Trotskyist Militant Tendency, were expelled from the party. Yet Livingstone is a much bigger fish than them.
I know the Socialist Action (SA) members who who were appointed by Livingstone to £120,000-plus key posts at City Hall, because they once worked closely with me in the Labour Party and Anti-Racist Alliance (ARA) before they created a divisive split in the ARA. Let me reveal them to you, starting with SA's leader, John Ross and his deputy Redmond O'Neill:
John Ross - Director of Economic and Business Policy. A specialist in international economic relations including the Chinese and Russian economies, he has been Livingstone's political guru for more than 20 years. Ross is responsible for the Mayor's economic policy, in charge of relations with businesses in London and of economic negotiations between the Mayor and national government. He is also responsible for liaison with international companies and international economic relations. Livingstone's Socialist Economic Bulletin was his brainchild.
Redmond O'Neill - Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Public Affairs and Transport for the Greater London Authority. He is responsible for transport policy and relations with central government, local government in London, London's diverse communities, including the trade unions, major events in London, public consultation, market research and communication, including the publication of the Mayor's newsletter, which is circulated to every household in the capital. Former ARA Executive Committee member, who was in charge of SA while Ross was in Russia for several years.
Simon Fletcher - Chief of Staff. He runs every aspect of the Mayor's office and was proud to tell The Guardian that he does not sneeze without Livingstone's say so. Like other SA members employed by the Mayor, Fletcher, who was the research assistant when Livingstone was MP for Brent East, in London, has been directly appointed. Nevertheless, in April 2002, when Livingstone went on a long holiday in Australia, Fletcher was effectively in charge of City Hall. The normal procedure would have been to put the Mayor's elected deputy, Nicky Gavron, in control. Former ARA volunteer worker.
Anne Kane - Highly-paid consultant equalities adviser. She has been hired to write reports for the Mayor on Women in London's Economy and a Discrimination Law Review. She has worked for women's rights, anti-racism, lesbian and gay rights and the civil rights of disabled people campaigns. Kane researched the material used by Lee Jasper (see below) to smear the government's Equalities and Human Rights Commission chief Trevor Phillips on Livingstone's orders. She was my former full-time assistant secretary at the ARA who was fired for gross misconduct after she was discovered moonlighting for SA during office hours.
Jude Woodward - Officer responsible for policy on culture and the creative industry. She also handles the Mayor's programme of major events promoting the culture, diversity and creativity of the city. Woodward is also responsible for the promotion of London's cultural and creative programme; helping set up the Mayoral offices in Beijing and Shanghai; liaison for the Mayor's Office with the 2012 Olympic cultural programme; and represents the Mayor on the London Cultural Consortium. Former ARA volunteer.
Atma Singh - Policy Advisor for Asian Affairs and Faith (2001-2007). He brought a case for racist bullying against the Greater London Authority (GLA), was forced out of his job, won an out of court cash settlement and is now ex-SA. Former ARA volunteer.
Other SA fellow travellers in the Mayor's office are:
Lee Jasper - Policy Adviser on Policing and Equalities, the former ARA vice-chair who is under Greater London Assembly investigation after at least £2.5 million in City Hall money was channelled to organisations controlled by himself, his friends and his business associates. (See also, 'Mayor's top aide probed over lost millions,' The-Latest , Politics section.)
Anni Marjoram - Policy Advisor on Women's Issues.
Former left-wing allies note that Livingstone's largesse, at the taxpayer's expense, has put some SA leaders into the upper reaches of the middle class, at the cost of their socialist souls. The Weekly Worker newspaper said, mockingly: 'SA nowadays stands for Salary Advancement. However, the mayor's call for crossing trade union picket lines during a strike by London transport workers has greatly increased the strains on this shadowy group, which still somehow imagines itself somewhere within the revolutionary spectrum. Squaring the circle between upholding socialism in theory, while in practice enforcing the policies of London's Bonapartist mayor, leads to pained embarrassment.'
The Weekly Worker has called for 'a complete rejection of the rotten politics that have fatefully, step by step, taken SA to the point where, along with Livingstone, it finally crossed class lines'.
I appeared as an interviewee on Channel Four's Dispatches programme titled The Court of Ken at 8pm on Monday, on this very subject.
Dispatches reporter on the programme, Martin Bright, the political editor of the New Statesman, said: 'There is no doubt in my mind that Socialist Action has carried out the most successful Trotskyist entryist operation since Derek Hatton's Liverpool. Vote Ken Livingstone, get Socialist Action.'
The-Latest was told by a senior trade unionist, who worked for Labour's organisation department: 'Militant Tendency members were rightly chucked out for being a secretive conspiracy in the party, in breach of our constitution, and the same should happen to Socialist Action and Livingstone. Their presence could prove electorally disastrous if we don't take a leaf out of Neil Kinnock's book and get rid of them. They do not belong in a modern, democratic political party.'