Learn more about Ken Livingstone
Kenneth Robert Livingstone (born June 17, 1945), is an English politician who has been the Mayor of London since the creation of the post in 2000. He was previously Leader of the Greater London Council from 1981 until it was abolished in 1986. After abolition he became Member of Parliament for Brent East, but was quoted as saying being in the House of Commons was not enjoyable <ref name="enjoy">Livingstone has been quoted as saying "Anybody who enjoys being in the House of Commons probably needs psychiatric help"; see, e.g., David Robertson, "Chavez sets policing expertise as price of cheap fuel", The Times, September 14, 2006, p. 59</ref> and made little impact there<ref name="impact">"In the Commons, however, he was spurned by Kinnock and made few allies" – Andrew Billen profile, Evening Standard, February 8, 2000, p. 8. "Livingstone was a loner who made no impact whatever in the Commons" – Gerald Kaufman, The Independent, February 17, 2005, p. 13. The Labour whips did not allocate him an office in Parliament for 18 months after his election.</ref>.
Livingstone was nicknamed 'Red Ken' from the early 1980s because of his left-wing views. He is a member of the Labour Party, but he was initially elected to the mayoralty as an Independent candidate when he could not gain the Labour Party's nomination in the first mayoral elections. In January 2004, he was re-admitted to the party and stood as the official Labour Party candidate for mayor in the June 2004 elections, which he won with a total of 828,380 first and second preference votes.
 Early and private life
Livingstone was born in Lambeth, London, and has described his parents as "working class Tories". He married Christine Pamela Chapman in 1973 but they were together for only a few years and the marriage ended in divorce in 1982. Around this time he became involved with Kate Allen, now director of Amnesty International in the UK, but the couple finally separated in November 2001. Livingstone and his current partner Emma Beal, also his office manager, have a son, Thomas, born December 14, 2002 at the University College Hospital, London, and a daughter, Mia, born on March 20, 2004 at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead. Livingstone is a noted bon vivant, having worked as a food critic for magazines owned by both the Hearst Corporation and Associated Newspapers.<ref>Our last supper with Ken - Evening Standard. 28 April, 2000</ref> He is well known for keeping and breeding newts.
Livingstone attended Tulse Hill Comprehensive School.<ref>Tulse Hill School - Official Website</ref> He worked for eight years as a cancer research technician and also trained as a teacher, qualifying in 1973 but never actually teaching. Livingstone joined the Labour Party in 1968 at a time when party membership was falling and few new young members were joining, and therefore rapidly rose in the local party. He was elected to the Lambeth Borough Council in May 1971 and served as Vice-Chair of the Housing Committee from 1971 to 1973 (succeeding John Major in the job).
At the 1973 elections Livingstone won the Norwood electoral area on the Greater London Council and served as Vice-Chair of Housing Management in 1974-1975, being dismissed when he opposed spending cuts being urged by council leader Sir Reg Goodwin. He also served on the film censorship committee and urged the abolition of censorship. Coming up to the 1977 elections, Livingstone realised that it would be difficult to retain his seat and managed to be selected for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, a safe seat, following the retirement of Dr David Pitt. This ensured that he was one of the few left-wing Labour councillors to remain on the council.
Livingstone had been selected as a Parliamentary candidate for the Hampstead constituency and moved to Camden just before the deadline to stand for the council in 1978, and was elected there. Livingstone's performance in Hampstead in the 1979 general election was relatively good although he did not come close to winning the seat. While on Camden council, Livingstone gave permission for a strike by local government workers during the Winter of Discontent to be settled with a high pay offer; the District Auditor later ruled this amounted to illegal expenditure and a breach of fiduciary duty, but Livingstone was not surcharged.
 GLC leadership
When Sir Reg Goodwin retired in 1980, Livingstone had performed surprisingly well in a leadership election to succeed him but still lost to the moderate Andrew McIntosh. In the GLC election of May 7 1981, Livingstone moved to the marginal constituency of Paddington. The Labour Party narrowly won control, having been led through the campaign by McIntosh who denied that he would be deposed. The day after the election, Livingstone challenged McIntosh for the leadership, and defeated him by 30 votes to 20. This was the culmination of a long process in which the left had organised to ensure its members were selected as GLC candidates, and all voted as a bloc within the Labour Party. They had also ensured that the left had control of the Labour manifesto for the election.
The GLC then set about reducing bus and London Underground fares, paid for by a special 'supplementary rate' in a policy known as 'Fares Fair'. Although the measure was generally popular and led to an increase in the use of public transport, it was challenged by the Conservative-controlled of Bromley Council where there were no London Underground stations, and struck down as unlawful by the Law Lords in December, 1981.
Despite his defeat in the fares battle, Livingstone would remain a thorn in the Conservatives' side, openly antagonising the Thatcher government by posting a billboard of London's rising unemployment figures on the roof of County Hall, the GLC headquarters, directly across the Thames from the Palace of Westminster. Under Livingstone, the GLC pursued a variety of unconventional and controversial measures: sponsoring an 'Antiracist Year,' providing city grants to such groups as 'Babies Against the Bomb', and declaring London a 'nuclear-free zone'.
Livingstone made perhaps his most controversial move in December 1982, when the GLC extended an official invitation to Sinn Féin leaders Gerry Adams and Danny Morrison. In the event, Adams and Morrison were denied entry into the country under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and met with Livingstone in Northern Ireland instead. When Adams was elected to Westminster, the ban was lifted. After meeting him, Livingstone said that Britain's treatment of the Irish over the last 800 years had been worse than Adolf Hitler's treatment of Jews. Livingstone's support for Irish republicanism made him a target for loyalists: in 2003 it was revealed in Michael Stone's autobiography that there was a Ulster Defence Association plot to kill Livingstone while on the Tube, though it came to nothing as the UDA agent became convinced the security forces were on to him.<ref>Matthew Tempest, "Loyalists planned to kill Livingstone", The Guardian, 10 June 2003</ref> In 2006 Stone revealed that he was the man who plotted to murder Livingstone.<ref>"My plot to murder Livingstone, by former hitman" thisislondon.co.uk, 1 November 2006</ref>
Such actions made Livingstone a favourite target for the press. He acquired the nickname 'Red Ken' and The Sun described him as 'the most odious man in Britain'. Private Eye dubbed Livingstone Leninspart, partly in response to his earlier toppling of McIntosh. However, Livingstone favoured European integration and proportional representation, neither of which were particularly popular causes among the British left at that time. When several Labour councils (including Militant-controlled Liverpool) protested against the government's rate-capping policy by refusing to set a property tax rate, Livingstone refused to join the campaign because he knew the GLC could run its services while keeping within capping limits. The GLC had already lost all central Government grant by 1983. Many on the left regarded Livingstone as having sabotaged the campaign and it led to a personal rift with John McDonnell, who had been Finance Chairman and Deputy Leader.Tony Benn, found themselves increasingly isolated from the general public.
The Conservative Party won the 1983 general election with a large majority, and forged ahead with their long-standing plan to abolish the GLC and devolve control to the individual boroughs. The GLC mounted a massive campaign to 'save London's democracy,' while the proposed abolition bill faced opposition from politicians on all sides, including the former Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath, who had introduced the six other Labour-controlled metropolitan councils which were also to be abolished. On August 2 1984, Livingstone and three other Labour councillors resigned, forcing byelections that they intended to serve as a referendum on the abolition issue. John Wilson, the Labour Chief Whip, served temporarily as Council Leader. However, the Conservatives cannily chose not to contest the byelections, and the voter turnout was far smaller than Livingstone had hoped for. On December 15 1984, the House of Commons passed the Local Government Act of 1985 by a relatively slim twenty-three vote margin. The GLC was formally abolished at midnight on March 31 1986.
 Livingstone in parliament
Livingstone again stood for Parliament in the 1987 general election, winning a seat in the north-west London constituency of Brent East. As a mere Labour backbencher, Livingstone lost the public platform he possessed as head of the GLC; furthermore, his brand of radical socialism was increasingly out of step with the Labour leadership, which had moved sharply towards the centre under the leadership of Neil Kinnock who now blamed left-wingers like Livingstone for Labour's 'unelectability.' Nevertheless, he was elected to the party's National Executive Committee in September 1987, although he lost this position two years later (he regained it in 1997 in what some interpreted as a rebuke to Tony Blair). He was re-elected MP in the general election of 1992, with a 6% swing to Labour in his Brent East constituency. Besides serving in the Commons, Livingstone held a number of other 'odd jobs' during this period, including game show contestant and host, after-dinner speaker, and restaurant reviewer for the Evening Standard. In 1987 he published an autobiography-cum-political tract, If Voting Changed Anything They'd Abolish It.
As a politician comfortable in light-hearted and satirical situations, in 1990, Livingstone made the first of seven appearances on the topical panel show Have I Got News For You. For a long time, his first six appearances would stand as the show's record; his current tally of seven - the last being in 2002 - fall one short of the record for guest appearances currently held by Germaine Greer and Will Self.
In 1995, Livingstone appeared on the track "Ernold Same" by the band Blur, taken from the album The Great Escape. Livingstone provided spoken word vocals and was listed as 'The Right On Ken Livingstone.'
Livingstone appeared in one of a series of advertisements extolling the virtues of cheese in the 1980s, appropriately endorsing red Leicester. On the other side of politics, Edward Heath advertised Danish Blue.
 Greater London's first mayor
Livingstone was again re-elected in the 1997 general election, in which Labour was returned to power under the leadership of Tony Blair. Among Labour's proposals was the establishment of a Greater London Authority which was to be a strategic body: unlike the GLC the Greater London Authority would not provide any services to Londoners directly. The new Greater London Authority would be headed by a directly-elected mayor, who would be watched over by a 25-member Assembly.
Despite having earlier criticised the specific proposals for a new London-wide authority, Livingstone was widely tipped for the new post of Mayor. The mayoral election was scheduled for 2000, and in 1999, Labour began the long and trying process of selecting its candidate. Despite Blair's personal antipathy, Livingstone was included on Labour's shortlist in November 1999, having pledged that he would not run as an independent if he failed to secure the party's nomination. William Hague, then Leader of the Opposition taunted Blair at Prime Minister's Question Time: "Why not split the job in two, with Frank Dobson as your day mayor and Ken Livingstone as your nightmare?" <ref>The Week in Politics - BBC News. 18 November, 1999</ref>
Labour chose its official candidate on February 20 2000. Although Livingstone received a healthy majority of the total votes, he nevertheless lost the nomination to former Secretary of State for Health Frank Dobson, under a system in which votes from sitting Labour MPs and MEPs were weighted more heavily than votes from rank-and-file members. Many people speculated that Livingstone would renege on his earlier pledge and run against Dobson as an independent; on March 6 he announced that he would indeed do so. He was suspended from the Labour Party the same day and expelled on April 4.
The result of the election — held on May 4 — was a foregone conclusion: Dobson, who it was alleged, had been pressured into running by the party leadership, foolishly based his campaign on claims that Livingstone was an egomaniac, and the Conservatives remained becalmed after their catastrophic national defeat in 1997. Livingstone came out ahead in the first round of balloting with 38.1% of first-preference votes to Conservative Steven Norris's 26.5%; Dobson finished third, with only 12.8% of all first-preference votes — just ahead of Liberal Democrat Susan Kramer, with 11.6%. Under the modified instant-runoff voting system employed for the election, the votes cast for Livingstone and Norris (only) were considered in the second round, where Livingstone won with 57.9% of first- and second-preference votes, versus 42.1% for Norris.
 Recent events
 Achievements as Mayor
An Association of London Government survey, conducted by MORI towards the end of Livingstone's first term, demonstrated Londoners' increased satisfaction with public transport and buses in particular were seen as more frequent and reliable.<ref>Londoners views. Findings from the 2003/4 BVPI Surveys - Association of London Government</ref> In accordance with his pre-election pledge bus fares were frozen for four years, but then the standard single cash fare on buses increased from 70p to £1.50, though the pre-pay Oystercard fares have remained at 80p or £1 . Livingstone decommissioned the famous Routemaster buses with the last one running on Route 159 on 9 December 2005 replacing them with wheel-chair accessible buses - though several of the old buses still appear on shortened "heritage routes."<ref>Routemaster makes final journey - BBC News - 9 December 2005</ref>
Livingstone has also been a strong proponent of the Oystercard smartcard ticketing system for London's public transport network introduced in 2003. In late 2005, Livingstone proposed large fare increases for paper tickets across the Tube and bus network which were designed to wean regular travellers onto the Oyster system in an effort to reduce queuing at busy Underground stations and speed up bus journey times. The plans, although ratified by the GLA and introduced in January 2006 were condemned in some quarters by those who argued that the increases would hit the pockets of tourists and those who made infrequent visits to the capital. Civil liberties groups have expressed concern over the way in which Transport for London is able to track the movements of passengers using the Oystercard system. Recently, Livingstone has moved to make all bus journeys free for under 18's travelling with an Oystercard,<ref>London’s buses now free for under 18s - The Londoner. August 2006</ref> and introduced initiatives to enable visitors to buy an Oyster card before arriving in London.
One of his most controversial policies has been the introduction of the London congestion charge, in an attempt to reduce traffic congestion in central London. The charge has reduced traffic levels by 15%. His planned extension of the zone into Kensington and Chelsea, an area that doesn't suffer from traffic congestion of the levels found in the original zone, has raised questions as to the overall objective of the policy.[citations needed]
Livingstone applied for readmittance to the Labour Party in 2002 but was rejected. In November 2003, however, rumours emerged that the Labour Party would allow Livingstone to rejoin, just ahead of the 2004 London mayoral election. Opinion polls consistently gave a poor showing to Labour's official candidate, Nicky Gavron, and many in the party leadership (including Tony Blair himself) feared that Labour would be humiliated by a fourth-place finish. In mid-December, Gavron announced she would stand down as the Labour candidate in favour of a 'unity campaign,' with Gavron as Livingstone's deputy, with Labour's National Executive Committee voting 25-2 to pave the way for Livingstone's readmittance. The deal hinged on a 'loyalty test' administered by a special five-member NEC panel on January 9. The panel recommended that Livingstone be allowed back in the party. The move towards readmittance came amid considerable opposition from higher-ups in the party, including Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, and former party leader Neil Kinnock. In a ballot of Labour Party members in London, Livingstone was overwhelmingly endorsed as the Labour candidate for the 2004 Mayoral election.
In November 2003, Livingstone was named 'Politician of the Year' by the Political Studies Association, which cited his implementation of the 'bold and imaginative' congestion charge scheme. The honour came a week after Livingstone made the headlines for referring to George W. Bush as 'the greatest threat to life on this planet,' just ahead of the President's official visit to the UK. Livingstone also organised an alternative 'Peace Reception' at City Hall 'for everybody who is not George Bush,' with anti-war Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic as the guest of honour.
Livingstone was re-elected Mayor of London on 10 June 2004. He won 35.70% of first preference votes to Conservative Steven Norris's 28.24% and Liberal Democrat Simon Hughes's 14.82%. Six other candidates shared the remainder of the votes. When all the candidates except Livingstone and Norris were eliminated and the second preferences of those voters who had picked neither Livingstone or Norris as their first choice were counted, Livingstone won with 55.39% to Norris's 44.61%. Some commentators believed that his re-election as mayor was hindered rather than helped by his readmission to the Labour party .
In his maiden speech to Parliament in July 1987, Livingstone used Parliamentary privilege to raise a number of allegations made by Fred Holroyd, a former MI6 operative in Northern Ireland. Despite the convention of maiden speeches being non-controversial, Livingstone alleged that Holroyd had been mistreated when he tried to expose MI5 collusion with loyalist paramilitaries in the 1970's and the part Captain Robert Nairac is alleged to have played. He also voiced Colin Wallace's allegations of MI5 dirty tricks leveled at Harold Wilson, part of the what became known as the "Wilson plot".
In March 2002, while still independent, Livingstone was accused of "cronyism" by some Labour party members in the London Assembly after he had appointed six officials as special advisers at a salary level which seemed to them excessive, and a manoeuvre to help his chances of being re-elected. Livingstone denied the allegations and stated the appointments were a "necessary efficiency drive."<ref>Livingstone accused of 'cronyism' - BBC News. 27 March, 2002</ref>
Allegations of a drunken party fracas involving the mayor surfaced in June 2002. The Evening Standard alleged that Livingstone tussled with Robin Hedges, a friend of his partner Emma Beal, at a birthday party for Emma's sister in the early morning of 19 May, 2002. The paper maintains that he manhandled Beal, who was pregnant with their first child at the time, and that he left the scene before the police arrived and after Hedges had fallen down a stairwell; Hedges believed the Mayor was responsible for pushing him.
Livingstone denied any wrongdoing but the case was referred to the Standards Board for England by the Lib Dems on the London Assembly.<ref>Ken: That party and me - Evening Standard. 19 June, 2006</ref> The standards board went through each and every allegation made by the Standard, and owing to contradictory witness statements by parties involved (including two completely different statements made by one of the alleged victims)<ref name="Multiple1">Mayor's response to Standards Board report - Mayor of London Press Release 23 July 2006</ref> and on the balance of probabilities the board issued a finding that there was no evidence that Livingstone breached the Code of Conduct.<ref name="multiple1">Mayor's response to Standards Board report - Mayor of London Press Release 23 July 2006</ref>
Livingstone has sparked controversy on numerous other occasions. In 2004 he said he looked forward to seeing the Saudi Royal Family "swinging from lamp posts"<ref>Anger at Livingstone Saudi 'rant' - BBC News. 8 April, 2004</ref>, he referred to US President George W. Bush as "the most corrupt American president since Harding in the Twenties"<ref>Profile: Ken Livingstone] - BBC News</ref>. In a March 2005 commentary in The Guardian he accused Israel's prime minister Ariel Sharon of being a "war criminal", citing his personal responsibility for the Sabra and Shatila massacre in 1982 and accusations of ethnic cleansing. <ref>Comment piece by Ken Livingstone - The Guardian</ref>
One of the key points of conflict between Livingstone and the Labour Party had been the proposed 'Public-Private Partnership' for the London Underground. Livingstone had run in 2000 on a policy of financing the improvements to Tube infrastructure by a public bond issue, which had been done in the case of the New York City Subway. However the Mayor did not have power in this area at the time as the Underground operated independently of Transport for London. The PPP deal went ahead in July 2002, but it did not diminish Livingstone's desire to re-join Labour.
 Yusuf al-Qaradawi
Livingstone became involved in a major dispute with Peter Tatchell, who had previously supported him, when he invited the Islamic scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi to a conference on the wearing of the hijab by schoolgirls in July 2004. The conference was called following the French law on secularity and conspicuous religious symbols in schools, which particularly affected Muslim girls. Peter Tatchell, who had stood as an independent Livingstone supporter in the 2000 elections, strongly criticised the invitation because of al-Qaradawi's support for "female genital mutilation, wife-beating, the execution of homosexuals in Islamic states, the destruction of the Jewish people, the use of suicide bombs against innocent civilians and the blaming of rape victims who do not dress with sufficient modesty".<ref>An embrace that shames London - New Statesman 24 January 2005.</ref> Livingstone defended the invite on grounds of Qaradawi's eminence as "one of the most authoritative Muslim scholars in the world today" who "has done most to combat socially regressive interpretations of Islam on issues like women's rights and relations with other religions". He also published a dossier giving a point by point rebuttal of Tatchells claims. <ref>"Why the Mayor of London will maintain dialogues with all of London ’s faiths and communities" - A reply to the dossier against the Mayor ’s meeting with Dr Yusuf al-Qaradawi - Mayor Of London. January 11, 2005</ref><ref>"Mayor responds to 'dossier' on al-Qaradawi" - Mayor Of London. January 11, 2005</ref>
According to Le Monde diplomatique, Livingstone had requested a report to inform himself on al-Qaradawi before his visit. After reading the study, he concluded "nearly all of the lies distorting al-Qaradawi's statements came from the MEMRI institute, which pretends to be an institute of objective research. However, we found out that the MEMRI had been founded by a former MOSSAD officer, who systematically distorts not only al-Qaradawi's statements, but what many other Muslim scholars say. In most of the cases, disinformation is total, and this is why I published this study." <ref> "Propaganda that widens the Arab-West divide - Gained in translation", Le Monde Diplomatique, October 2005. See in French (freely available) "Traduction ou trahison ? Désinformation à l’israélienne.", Le Monde Diplomatique, October 2005. (Farsi translation also available for free here) </ref>
Peter Tatchell formed part of a coalition of some London based community groups which objected to al-Qaradawi, but whom Livingstone refused to meet. The Lesbian and Gay Coalition against Racism issued a statement of support for Livingstone signed, among others, by Ben Summerskill of Stonewall and Linda Bellos, which cited his record of support for gay rights "irrespective of the differing views over his meeting with the Muslim scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi".<ref>Ken Livingstone’s record of support for lesbian and gay rights - Lesbian and Gay coalition against racism.</ref> The row went on for many months, with Livingstone insistent that the Mayor of a major diverse city had a duty to maintain close relationships with all faith groups even if he disagreed with some of their views.
 Comments to Oliver Finegold
Ken Livingstone was publicly criticised in February 2005 when he compared an Evening Standard reporter to a concentration camp guard after the reporter had tried to interview him following a reception marking the 20th anniversary of Chris Smith's coming out as gay. The reporter, Oliver Finegold, turned out to be Jewish and said he took offence at the comparison, but Livingstone refused to withdraw the remark and was subsequently accused of anti-Semitism. Finegold had an audio recorder running and he released the following recording of the conversation, which contained twelve seconds of silence — which Livingstone claims is where abuse by Finegold was edited out, an allegation supported by the Standards Board for England:
- Finegold: Mr Livingstone, Evening Standard. How did tonight go?
- Livingstone: How awful for you. Have you thought of having treatment?
- Finegold: How did tonight go?
- Livingstone: Have you thought of having treatment?
- Finegold: Was it a good party? What does it mean for you?
- Livingstone: What did you do before? Were you a German war criminal?
- Finegold: No, I'm Jewish, I wasn't a German war criminal and I'm actually quite offended by that. So, how did tonight go?
- Livingstone: Ah right, well you might be [Jewish], but actually you are just like a concentration camp guard, you are just doing it because you are paid to, aren't you?
- Finegold: Great, I have you on record for that. So, how was tonight?
- Livingstone: It's nothing to do with you because your paper is a load of scumbags and reactionary bigots.
- Finegold: I'm a journalist and I'm doing my job. I'm only asking for a comment.
- Livingstone: Well, work for a paper that doesn't have a record of supporting fascism.
This last comment was a reference to the Standard's owners, the Daily Mail and General Trust, which endorsed Oswald Mosley's fascists in 1934 and supported the Nazis until 1939. Livingstone also claimed the Standard was guilty of "harassment of a predominantly lesbian and gay event". The gay rights group founded by Peter Tatchell called OutRage! stated that the gay community did not need Livingstone's support if that meant resorting to abuse.
After listening to the recording supplied by Finegold, the London Assembly voted unanimously to ask Livingstone to apologise. Livingstone responded by saying "the form of words I have used are right. I have nothing to apologise for". Deputy Mayor Nicky Gavron, herself the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, said of Livingstone: "These were inappropriate words and very offensive, both to the individual and to Jews in London".<ref>London Assembly censures Livingstone over Nazi jibe - The Scotsman. 15 February, 2005</ref> The Board of Deputies of British Jews referred the case to the Standards Board for England, the body responsible for English local government standards, which passed it to the Adjudication Panel for England, which has the power to ban individuals from public office for five years.
The Adjudication Panel addressed the case over two days on the 13 & 14 December 2005 , and adjourned the hearing for two months. On 24 February 2006, Ken Livingstone was found guilty of bringing his office into disrepute and suspended from office for four weeks, stating that he seemed "to have failed... to have appreciated that his conduct was unacceptable". <ref>Mayor is suspended over Nazi jibe - BBC News. 24 February,2006</ref> Livingstone attacked the decision on the grounds that the non-elected Adjudication Panel members ought not to suspend a democratically elected official from power, describing their actions as "striking at the heart of democracy". The ban was due to begin on 1 March 2006, but on 28 February 2006, a High Court judge postponed it pending an appeal by Livingstone. <ref>Judge freezes mayor's suspension - BBC News. 28 February 2006</ref> Responding to the decision the Deputy Mayor, Nicky Gavron, issued the following comment “This decision is absurd – and strikes at the roots of democracy. Millions of Londoners elected the Mayor - and three unelected officials remove him. An elected Mayor should only be removed by the law or by the electorate. Not by an unelected body. This issue should never have come to the standards board in the first place – it was given a thorough airing at the time. But it has been blown out of all proportion. What Londoners care about most are issues like safer streets, more buses and a cleaner environment.“ During a Mayor's Question Time evening at the Hackney Empire a vote was put forward to the few hundred people in the audience asking if them if they supported the decision to ban the Mayor from office; the London audience showed their disapproval and responded with their full backing for the Mayor. The decision was later quashed by the High Court when on October 5, Justice Collins overturned the suspension, regardless the outcome of Livingstone's appeal concerning the breach of standards.<ref>Ken's suspension order thrown out - BBC News. 5 October 2006</ref> On October 19 the judge upheld Livingstone's appeal and stated that the Adjudication Panel had misdirected itself. Full costs were awarded to Livingstone.<ref>Mayor wins appeal over Nazi jibe - BBC News. 19 October 2006</ref>
 Reuben brothers
Livingstone was again the object of criticism following a 21 March 2006 press conference at which Livingstone is alleged to have said of David and Simon Reuben — two Indian-born British businessmen involved in a property development project for the 2012 Olympics — that "if they’re not happy they can always go back to Iran and see if they can do better under the Ayatollahs". Brian Coleman and other Conservative members of the GLA accused Livingstone of anti-semitism, while The Guardian and The Times ran leaders accusing Livingstone of anti-immigrant remarks. The Guardian stated that Livingstone's remarks would "shame a loudmouth pub buffoon", and that "The Reuben brothers have as much right to be in Britain as Livingstone himself", while the Times leader said simply "Ken Livingstone is a fool". Livingstone refused calls for him to apologize for his remarks, stating "I would offer a complete apology to the people of Iran to the suggestion that they may be linked in any way to the Reuben brothers. I wasn't meaning to be offensive to the people of Iran." <ref>"Mayor in fresh Jewish controversy" - BBC News 21 March,2006</ref> He also accused Coleman of behaving like the Nazi Propaganda Minister, Josef Goebbels. The Reuben brothers are of Iraqi ancestry, rather than Iranian, but have carried out work in Iran. The Standards Board referred the comments to the GLA's monitoring officer, whose investigation exonerated the mayor.
 Dispute with US embassy over payment of Congestion Charge
A dispute with the US embassy in London over payment of the Congestion Charge escalated on 27 March 2006 when Livingstone criticised the embassy's decision not to pay. Embassy officials stopped paying the charge in July, 2005. Livingstone has alleged that the decision was made by Robert Tuttle, who took up the post of Ambassador at that time, but the US embassy has denied this. The embassy has claimed the charge is a form of taxation, and diplomats and their staff are therefore exempt under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Germany also stopped paying the charge in 2005, but other embassies (including those of Spain, Japan and Russia) have continued to pay it. According to the Mayor's office, US embassies in other cities with congestion charging schemes pay the charges in those cities. Livingstone described Tuttle as "one of George Bush's closest cronies and a big funder of his election campaign" and said he was trying to "skive out of [paying] like some chiselling little crook". The Standards Board for England chose not to investigate this. <ref>Mayor reported for 'crook' remark - BBC News. 28 March,2006</ref>
 Support for minorities
In 2001 Livingstone revived the free Anti-racism Music festival now called Rise: London United. He claims that this, along with other anti-racist policies are the reason why London has seen a 35% decrease in racist attacks. <ref>Festivals play their part in fighting racism Ken Livingstone - The Guardian - Tuesday, June 6.</ref>
In 2001 Livingstone set up Britain's first register for gay couples, while falling short of legal marriage rights, the register was seen as a "step towards" that equality. Legal status was later passed by the government thorough the Civil Partnership Act 2004.<ref>Timeline: Fight for gay equality - BBC News. 9 May, 2005</ref>
In September 2005 Livingstone came out in support for the placing of a statue to Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa, on the north terrace of Trafalgar Square. Livingstone said "There can be no better place than our greatest square to place a statue of Nelson Mandela so that every generation can remind the next of the fight against racism."<ref>Mayor fights for Mandela statue - BBC News. 22 September 2005</ref> He was highly critical of the Planning and City Development Committee of Westminster City Council who refused planning permission.
Livingstone hosted a Jewish Hanukkah ceremony at City Hall in December 2005. He said he intended this to be an annual occurrence.<ref>Mayor hosts ceremony for Hanukkah - Mayor Of London. 23 December, 2005</ref><ref>City Hall marks Jewish festival - BBC News. 28 December 2005</ref> On March 17, 2002 Livingstone introduced an annual Saint Patrick's Day festival to London to celebrate the contributions of the Irish to London.<ref>Irish London - BBCi.12 October, 2005</ref> On October 28, 2006 he helped organise the first ever "Eid in the Square" in Trafalgar Square, in commemeration of the Eid ul-Fitr festival which marks the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. .<ref>Londoners United and Rejoicing - Muslim Council of Britain Press release. </ref>
 Reaction to 7 July 2005 London bombings
Within hours of the 7 July 2005 London bombings, Livingstone, speaking off the cuff, and from half way around the world at the 117th IOC Session in Singapore where it had recently been announced London would host the 2012 Olympic Games, delivered a speech.
Finally, I wish to speak directly to those who came to London today to take life.
I know that you personally do not fear giving up your own life in order to take others - that is why you are so dangerous. But I know you fear that you may fail in your long-term objective to destroy our free society and I can show you why you will fail.
In the days that follow, look at our airports, look at our sea ports and look at our railway stations and, even after your cowardly attack, you will see that people from the rest of Britain, people from around the world will arrive in London to become Londoners and to fulfil their dreams and achieve their potential.
They choose to come to London, as so many have come before because they come to be free, they come to live the life they choose, they come to be able to be themselves. They flee you because you tell them how they should live. They don't want that and nothing you do, however many of us you kill, will stop that flight to our city where freedom is strong and where people can live in harmony with one another. Whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail. <ref>Mayor condemns 'cowardly' attack - BBC News. 7 July, 2005</ref>
I think you've just had 80 years of western intervention into predominantly Arab lands because of the western need for oil.
We've propped up unsavoury governments, we've overthrown ones we didn't consider sympathetic.
And I think the particular problem we have at the moment is that in the 1980s ... the Americans recruited and trained Osama Bin Laden, taught him how to kill, to make bombs, and set him off to kill the Russians and drive them out of Afghanistan.
They didn't give any thought to the fact that once he'd done that he might turn on his creators.
A lot of young people see the double standards, they see what happens in Guantanamo Bay, and they just think that there isn't a just foreign policy. <ref>Mayor blames Middle East policy - BBC News. 20 July, 2005</ref>
Livingstone defended the police after the mistaken killing of a Brazilian man, Jean Charles de Menezes, who police believed was a suicide bomber.
 External links
- Mayor of London, the London Assembly and the Greater London Authority - official London government website
- Mayor's Cultural Strategy Group - official London government website
- Mayorwatch.org pages
- CityMayors.com Profile of Livingstone
- Full results of the 2004 mayoral election
 BBC articles
- Mayor condemns 'cowardly' attack (7 July 2005) BBC video of Livingstone's statement (Realplayer format)
- Ken Livingstone : Rebel Mayor (5 May 2000)
 Other external links
- The Observer Profile: Ken Livingstone - Capital chap by Jay Rayner, published in The Observer, July 10, 2005
- You Can't believe in everything Guardian opinion piece
- Livingstone's response Letter to The Guardian
- Mayor's press release and dossier on Qaradawi
- OutRage! response to the Mayor's dossier on Qaradawi MS Word Document
- Labour's shameful debt to Livingstone Telegraph opinion piece
- The middle east now.com Article on Livingstone
- "London Community Coalition"
- Adjudication Panel for England - Notice of Decision: Ken Livingstone
- Livingstone's Statement about the Evening Standard Affair - 22 February 2005
- Livingstone's Statement about the Evening Standard Affair - 28 February 2006
- Timeline of the Evening Standard Affair
- Transcript of conversation with Evening Standard Reporter
- London mayor outrages Jewish leaders
Sir Horace Cutler
|Leader of the Greater London Council|
|Leader of the Greater London Council|
Sir Godfrey Taylor was Chairman of the London Residuary Body
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
|Member of Parliament for Brent East|
|Mayor of London|
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