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Red Ken's running mate and the tube strikes

On December 7 Ken Livingstone selected Val Shawcross as his “Deputy Mayoral Running Mate” against Boris Johnson.

1. Just eight days later on 15 December Val Shawcross was “caught on camera” picketing with Tube Unions the RMT and TSSA in support of the wave of tube strikes that have caused so much misery to Londoners.

2. Until just days ago, Ken Livingstone ran his campaign to be the Labour candidate for Mayor of London from the HQ of the Tube Union TSSA.

It’s now clear just what and why Ken and his handpicked choice for Deputy Mayor, and his
Union funders, have in store as a present for all Londoners next year.

  • They are setting up a series of rolling three-day strikes in an attempt to bring London to a standstill.
  • If this causes you severe disruption and costs London businesses millions of pounds - then they simply don’t care! It is all a part of Ken Livingstone’s election plan.
  • What they really want to do is to try to undermine Boris and give Ken Livingstone every opportunity to get elected as Mayor in 2012.

Next year, every time we suffer at the hands of the unions – let’s remember who is really behind the misery we as Londoners are having inflicted upon us. And why.


This afternoon (March 10th) I had the following email from Val Shawcross:

Dear Mr Phibbs,
I am concerned that there is a potentially libellous allegation on your website/ blog that I have been photographed on a picket line in support of tube strikes. I can assure you that I have not ever
attended either an RMT or TSSA picket line against TfL or LUL and that I would not do so  as I do not support tube strikes.  Please remove this misleading statement  from your website /blog. You'll see on the photograph you refer to that the National Pensioners Convention, the disability charity Transport for All and SERTUC as well as RMT and TSSA unions took part in the lobby and it wasn’t a picket line. The photo shows  a lobby of City Hall on MQT day 15th December against ticket office closures which  we  received as Assembly members and it was not held on a strike day.   Please confirm to me that you will be removing the offending allegation from your site. This libellous allegation is intended to cause damage to my reputation and I already have several examples of where it has been cited and quoted in attacks on my reputation in the media/internet.

I also note that you have  published a completely inaccurate set of comments about my position on the South London Line  and that you allege that I have appointed Bernie Grant's wife to the Chair of
TRAVELWATCH.  This appointment was  of course done one  cross party basis with the active support and involvement of the Conservative Group at City Hall. I suggest that you set up a  procedure for checking such statements  before you allow them to be published on your website.

Valerie Shawcross AM
LONDON Assembly Member
Lambeth & Southwark

 I replied:

Thanks, Val.
I suppose it comes down to how you define the word "picket." The online dictionaries that came at the top when I did a search include a general demonstration as an alternative definition of the

I am pleased to hear you don't support the tube strikes. Do you go so far as to condemn them? Or are you neutral on the matter?

Why don't you post a comment replying to the one from "Save South London Line"? Or otherwise I can add an update to the blog with your comments.

Best wishes,

Then she emailed back:

Mr Phipps.

Your email doesn't make it clear whether you intend to amend or remove the offending misleading comment in your main article.  Can you confirm whether or not you will do so?



Then I emailed her back:

As I explained the use of the term picket is accurate according the dictionary. But I'd be pleased to add a comment with your views on tube strikes if you could clarify them.

Then she emailed:

 Dear Mr Phibbs,

I am happy for you to publish my email to you below  which makes my position clear.

You should accept that the term picket, particularly in the context in which you have used it is  deliberately intended to mislead by implying that I was present at a TfL facility during the strike.  You now know for a fact that this was not true.

I therefore ask you again to make this fact clear on your blog.



So I then emailed back agreeing to publish the correspondence. She is in an awkward position, isn't she? Labour is dependent on the unions and so she can't condemn the tube strikes. Yet she can tell that her failure to do so is electorally toxic. So the line seems to be not supporting them but not opposing them either. But can that line hold? Will blustering and prevaricating on the issue be sustainable for the next 14 months?


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