It can’t have escaped the attention of Team Boris that there’s an actual selection process for Labour’s Mayoral candidate and that it’s a genuine two horse race between Ken Livingstone and Oona King.  It certainly hasn’t escaped the attention of a Twitterer called ‘No2Ken‘ whose rather ageist bio declares:

Let’s stop 65-year-old Ken Livingstone from being Labour’s Mayoral candidate for 2012. Email – sayno2ken@gmail.com

Well, no one’s obliged to like the man, and there’s nothing to fear from an open selection campaign with both sides putting their best foot forwards, that’s party democracy (and it’ll be interesting if Boris gets a challenge, won’t it, borough boys?).  However, is ‘No2Ken’ really a genuine grassroots Labour anti-Ken movement or something rather more sinister?  Allow me to unfold a tale.

I was down in Plymouth over the weekend visiting family, and was thus off Twitter in general, although not entirely.  I was thus not able at the time to work out what was going on with No2Ken whom I first became aware of with this message to me:

Ken does not relate to Londoners. We need a young, fresh and energetic hopeful for Labour. Don’t get stuck with second best

There’d been a previous one I picked up later aimed squarely at four London political types and cadging their support:

@AdamBienkov @sunny_hundal @BorisWatch @politic_animal Will you be supporting this mini-campaign against Ken becoming the Labour hopeful?

Scanning the account message history there are a number of tweets implying a connection between ‘No2Ken’ and the Labour Party – the use of ‘we’ when discussing internal party issues, for instance:

Labour needs a fresh new hopeful if they have any chance against Boris. Lab needs someone who can connect with modern Londoners

He should adapt another Obama campaign slogan – Change. Because that is what the Labour Party needs.

Look at his views on Europe, that’s the kind of stuff that will draw people away – they aren’t representative of Labour +

Average voters remember the various claims of corruption by Ken, true or not – it’s a major bummer for the Labour image

Bottom line is that Lab can’t simply accept Ken just because he showed up.We’ve lived through his defeat through Ken v Boris

Let me make clear that I am not solely promoting Oona to become the candidate – but, we need a wider range. Ken’s defeated

Londoners want change! We don’t need the same old giddy to lose Labour another election. Act before it’s too late.

We need to wake up and smell the coffee. We need to put up A fresh new oppenent against Boris. Ken is defeated.

Which ultra-safe pro-Ken constituency will @ken4london visit tomorrow? We need to get the views from ALL parts of London

I think it’s pretty clear from that that we’re intended to take this as coming from a Labour party supporter or member who wants a wider range of candidates and is opposed to Ken Livingstone.  However, most of No2Ken’s tweets are RTs of other people, presumably found by simply searching Twitter for anyone mentioning Ken and retweeting those that are uncomplimentary.  This does, however, lead to some unfortunate mishaps, such as retweeting one ScotBNP (‘Scottish BNP Member’ is his bio), a fervent anti-Muslim:

Richard Barnbrook on a Ken Livingstone comeback http://bit.ly/b0DlMP

Now, Oona King may be on the right of the Labour Party and voted for the Iraq War, but surely in three billion years a part Jewish part black Labour politician in London isn’t going to claim that she’s better than Ken Livingstone based on support from Richard bloody Barnbrook and his gang of Islamophobic neo-fascists?  We can probably already conclude that this isn’t an official part of the Oona King campaign, not least because I’m 100% certain that if one of her people had done this they’d be thrown out before it rebounded badly.  There are some places you don’t go.

As well as ideological mistakes No2Ken doesn’t check the geography too closely:

RT @bapartofmylife: RT @Jbroks86 I can not believe @UKLabour is serious about anti-Semitic Ken Livingstone as Mayor of London

Now, Jbroks86 turns out to be a ‘conservative, pro-Israel/Zionist, Anglophile, supporter of a Free Iran’ but more pertinently a ‘pro-Tea Party, Cecil County Young Republicans member(2006-)’ or, in other words, an American wingnut, in America (between Baltimore and Wilmington, in Maryland, to be exact) while ‘bapartofmylife’ is a ‘JEWESS blogger. I’m intense, opinionated and independent. Pro-CHOICE! NOBama!! If you don’t like that don’t follow me!’ and is from New York City.  I’m not sure either of them have a vote in London Labour candidate selections, but I’m open to correction.

So, No2Ken’s idea of supporting the Labour Party consists of inadvertently associating Oona King with genuine anti-Semites while RTing the kind of American nut who thinks that raising the slightest objection to Israel murdering people puts you in the same moral league as Himmler.  ‘No2Ken’ is not, therefore, turning out to be a particularly well run astroturf operation, but if we’re sure it’s not Oona King’s team, who is actually behind it?  Well, a little slice of good luck came to our rescue here, as  on the evening of 14th June No2Ken sent me a message defending Boris’s new old friend Ray Lewis, whose hypocritical re-appointment by Boris (of which more later) came out that day.

Naturally, defending Boris decisions is not consistent with involvement in Labour Mayoral selections but is consistent with the behaviour of ex-Boris aide Einy Shah, so naturally I mused publicly that Einy and No2Ken might share something in common.  In response ‘Einy90′ immediately appeared and started acting rather suspiciously.  What on earth should one make of the following, which is of course non-comprehensive due to the difficulty of keeping up with her instant tweet deletions?:

  • 18:34 ‘no comment’
  • 18:38 ‘I think you should keep quiet about your discovery’
  • 18:48 ‘Nothing. Forget about what I said’
  • 18:55 ‘How much do you know?’
  • 19:04 (as No2Ken) ‘Art to what?? Stop messing about, how much do you know?’
  • 19:42 Listen, due to my app being totally fucked. It’s messed around with the accounts. You may now I hold the keys to @no2ken but any chance
  • 19:42 That you could keep quiet
  • 21:15 ‘Tell everyone I’m in big shit tomorrow’
  • 23:12 ‘Since, I won’t be shouting my blunder out to the world  – all will be forgotten. All works out in the end’
  • 23:19 ‘No comment’

followed by, on the 15th:

  • 22:29 You may call it astroturfing but some call it genius. Oona will be a disaster for Labour & Ken will be a disaster too … for the Tories. Q

So, to recap what we know:

  • ‘No2Ken’ is not a pro-Labour anti-Ken account
  • ‘No2Ken’ is nothing to do with Oona King’s campaign
  • It is at least partly and probably wholly run by Einy Shah, who’s a Conservative supporter of Boris with a past history of dodgy behaviour online
  • She still (as she’s admitted elsewhere) apparently working for Boris (whom she calls the ‘big cheese’ and who apparently likes her), albeit not in the Mayor’s Peer Outreach Team any more
  • ‘No2Ken’ is a clear astroturf and profoundly dishonest, not least in its willingness to RT fascists and US wingnuts as if they’re worth listening to on Labour’s internal candidate selections, which incidentally also smears Oona King

What we don’t know:

  • Is it official?  Is Einy’s role now operating as some kind of social media person for Team Boris or is the whole thing off her own bat?
  • Where did she learn that divide-and-conquer dirty tricks like this are an acceptable way of doing politics?  She has, lest we forget, recently worked on Jo Johnson’s election campaign and I’m not sure the new MP for Orpington will enjoy the association any more than Oona King.

I think we should definitely be told.  I also think Oona King could usefully disassociate herself and her campaign officially from ‘No2Ken’, as could other political followers such as James Cleverly, Joanne Cash, Sadiq Khan and Cllr Joshua Peck – it doesn’t do them any credit to lend official sanction to such disgraceful behaviour.  Still, as she’s also now claiming to have voted for Boris in May 2008 while aged 17 (born 7/11/1990), it’s not exactly out of character from someone who apparently thinks rules don’t apply to her.

Update: Luke Waterfield informs me that Sadiq Khan MP has unfollowed and blocked No2Ken, who was followed automatically.  Joanne Cash and Cllr Peck also seem to have stopped. Still tacitly supporting the astroturfing fool are the following big names:

Chop, chop!

 
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