Song Of The Day 3/11/2016: The Law Lords International – “Livingstone Rap!!”

Cherry Red – Wrapping up the week is this tribute to Ken Livingstone. To get a full, complete profile of this man requires some base-level understanding of British politics in general and London's local metropolitan government in particular. I, sitting here on the caboose end of the colonies, have neither. So I offer pre-emptive apologies to my friends in the UK for getting any of this wrong. I'm on deadline, which means this will be the Wikipedia Lite version.

But all you need to know, really, is that Ken Livingstone was a popular member of the Labour Party, occupying a hot seat on the left-lefter side of the political spectrum. He identifies as a democratic socialist, a term many of us in the United States are just now learning about and/or finally not soiling our pants in fear every time we hear the phrase. The Sun nicknamed him "Red Ken." He was elected to represent his locality in the Greater London Council (GLC), which for a time was the highest administrative branch in London government. Livingstone was an early and ready champion of taking care of the homeless and LGBT rights, but for awhile he was perceived as such a troublesome shitkicker that he was given the title of Vice Chairman of the Film Viewing Board. What was his role? Watching softcore porn. Well, monitoring the release of such films. This was in the early '70s, the halcyon days of hardcore porn. I don't know how good the softcore porn was at the time, but if it was anything like the movies Kato Kaelin used to make, my outlook's not hopeful.

Anyway, sorry, distracted by porn again. Livingstone rose through the ranks again, winning praise for his staunch support of the working class and becoming one of Margaret Thatcher's earliest, most polarizing critics. He eventually ascended to leadership of the GLC through some angry machinations and inflamed opposition from conservative leaders, who felt he was diverting the country on a hellbent path to Marxism. The British press tried to depose him but couldn't dig up any real dirt on him except for his curious, deep affection for amphibians. The biggest spot of trouble he got in was for his perceived support of the Irish Republican Army. I'm leaving a lot of stuff out here. Tons of it. Suffice to say Thatcher's government was not keen on the continued presence of the GLC despite its being generally approved of locally, and managed to have the organization abolished in 1986.

Livingstone later served in Parliament and became the first elected Mayor of London in 2000. London did not elect mayors until the end of the 20th century. Before then I guess they held some sort of knighting ceremony or lineage raffle or something. I really don't know. Livingstone's been in the news again lately as some cranky sorts are accusing him of secretly leading the Labour Party.

Today's song, then... well, what're you gonna say? It was obviously recorded at a time when the GLC was perceived to be under the threat of extinction, and released in 1984. Collaborators on this one-off included drummer Richie Stevens, performing the rap with artist Keith Paul aka Iauwata, with lyrics co-written by those two, Steve Drewett and Attila the Stockbroker. Because of them you will now be unable to get the phrase "He's the socialist with the most-alist!" out of your head until next Thursday.

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