Five years of leading the General London Council, 14 years in Parliament, and eight years as directly-elected Mayor of London. You would forgive him for taking a three year break. But that has not lasted long: Ken Livingstone is back.
The veteran Labour candidate is on the campaign trail for London’s Mayor in May 2012. EastLondonLines spoke to Livingstone after a Q&A session held at Goldsmiths, getting in-depth answers about the August riots, the Olympic Games, and his competition, Boris Johnson.
“Boris represents the most backward elements of English society. He hasn’t got a feminist instinct in his body.” he said. He was commenting on the fact that Johnson failed to show up at a mayoral election debate organised by UK Feminist.
Livingstone also provided his opinion of the current Mayor’s delayed return from holiday after the riots. “I think it was outrageous that Boris initially refused to come back. All the mayors I know want to be in their city when it’s going wrong and when it’s going right,” he said.
“The riots might not have happened [had I been Mayor] because when the family led the march to protest at the killing of Mark [Duggan], then waited for hours and no one came to talk to them, I would have been there and I would have told them what I’d known about the circumstances of the killing.”
Livingstone added that he would have ensured a “genuine open investigation” following the incident on August 4.
While the 66-year-old voiced his criticisms of Johnson, it was not all Boris-bashing, and speaking about his nemesis, said: “I suspect Boris will secretly vote for me.”
Later that afternoon, students from Goldsmiths and Lewisham residents quizzed the former Mayor on what he would do and how he would be different in the forthcoming Mayoral term. Livingstone promised to cut public transport fares by five per cent and to instate an Equal Pay Commissioner to tackle the problem of unequal pay in London.
Livingstone also said he was “embarrassed” that he could only cut transport fares by five per cent. “The first time I cut fares, I cut them by 30 per cent back in 1981 and in 1984, I cut them by 25 per cent.”
Should his campaign prove successful, Livingstone would become Mayor 10 weeks before the Olympic Games begin. Speaking about next year’s event, he said: “We didn’t bid to have a lot of tourism in 2012. We bid to get infrastructure. If you ever get on the London Overground, that’s most likely the best legacy affecting places like Lewisham, and it’s really opened them up.
“I only bid for the Olympics to get the regeneration, and going to Olympic events is going to be work rather than pleasure, thankfully.”