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Ken Livingstone - Mayor of London


Ken Livingstone is an English politician who served as the Leader of the Greater London Council from 1981 until the council was abolished in 1986, and as Mayor of London from the creation of the office in 2000 until 2008. In this revelatory interview, the former Mayor drops by London Real studios to talk about his journey into politics, his biggest accomplishments and why David Cameron is the most dishonest Prime Minister in his lifetime.

Ken Livingstone’s political life began in the 1970s when he became involved in local politics as a member of the Greater London Council. His advocacy for affordable housing and public transportation earned him recognition, and he quickly ascended the political ranks. Livingstone’s affiliation with the Labour Party solidified, and he became known for his left-leaning policies and commitment to social justice.

In 1981, Ken Livingstone became the leader of the GLC, a position he held until the council’s abolition in 1986 by then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. His tenure was marked by progressive policies, including initiatives to address homelessness and promote LGBTQ+ rights. Livingstone’s confrontations with the Thatcher government, particularly over issues like anti-apartheid protests and LGBTQ+ rights, cemented his reputation as a political maverick.

Despite his popularity among voters, Ken Livingstone’s relationship with the Labour Party was often tumultuous. In the 1980s, he faced suspension from the party for his left-wing stance and disagreements with the leadership. Despite these challenges, Livingstone remained a formidable force within Labour, eventually rejoining the party in the 1990s.

Ken Livingstone achieved a historic victory in 2000 by becoming the first directly elected Mayor of London. Serving two terms from 2000 to 2008, his tenure was marked by ambitious initiatives, including the implementation of the congestion charge to ease traffic in central London, the launch of the Oyster card for public transportation, and the bid for the 2012 Olympic Games.

His legacy is one of both accomplishment and controversy. As Mayor of London, he played a pivotal role in shaping the city’s modern infrastructure and policies. His progressive initiatives, such as affordable housing and improved public transportation, continue to impact the lives of Londoners. Following his time as Mayor, Ken Livingstone has remained active in politics, serving as an MP from 2012 to 2016.

Ken Livingstone’s political history is a complex tapestry of achievements and controversies. From his early days as a GLC leader advocating for social justice to his historic tenure as the Mayor of London, Livingstone has left an undeniable impact on the political landscape. As a political figure, Ken Livingstone’s story serves as a reminder of the intricate intersection between policy accomplishments and the personal controversies that can define a political career.


00:00 | Trailer
01:58 Brian’s thoughts on the episode
05:17 Brian’s Introduction
05:48 Ken’s journey into politics
11:14 Notoriety after appointment as leader of the GLC in 1980s
14:57 If Thatcher and Reagan had studied history, we would never have had the banking crisis
16:38 Cyclical demonization of immigrants
17:31 For what Ken respected Margaret Thatcher
19:00 New Labour and Tony Blair
20:59 A Mayor for London
23:38 Reason he had to leave the Labour Party to be a mayoral candidate
26:14 Accomplishments over two terms as Mayor of London
27:58 The biggest single factor for a country’s success
30:27 Good public transport and fibre optic system for all
31:54 Olympics regeneration legacy even better than Ken hoped
32:32 What haunts him from his time as Mayor
33:54 What Boris Johnson wanted to know over dinner with Ken
35:59 Boris Johnson & Michael Gove political agenda opposites
38:28 “Politics is show business for ugly people”, does Ken agree
40:05 Boris Johnson’s part in the Brexit campaign
41:30 The growing power of the military industrial complex
43:31 The UK will be sucked into the American orbit on a grand scale
46:11 Brexit, Ken’s thoughts on why Britain voted out, the implications and his proposal
48:14 Governments have got to start listening
50:15 Where Britain will be in two years’ time
53:38 “I’m always going to state what I believe to be true, otherwise why would I be in politics
“59:36 Will the Labour Party split over Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership
1:02:30 Most dramatic period in British politics in his lifetime
1:03:23 David Cameron the most dishonest Prime Minister in his lifetime
1:04:31 Politics like ‘House of Cards’
1:06:20 The possibility of the UK becoming the 51st State
1:07:20 Donald Trump an unknown quantity
1:10:31 London as an independent city state
1:12:41 Prospect for new London Mayor Sadiq Khaan
1:13:40 Ken Livingstone, a polarising figure
1:15:25 Rupert Murdoch is the most damaging immigrant that has ever come to this country
1:19:51The influences on today’s economy
1:22:10 Does Ken enjoy media attention
1:23:59 Influence of the bankers and will they leave Britain
1:25:13 Does he feel the media was so biased towards the Remain camp
1:26:15 Because of Corbyn’s euro-sceptic views will he be the best person to negotiate on behalf of the ordinary people
1:27:13 In another 5 years what will the Tory and Labour parties look like
1:27:57 What will Ken Livingstone be like in 5 years
1:28:28 Success Secrets
1:29:11 Advice to the 20 year old Ken Livingstone
1:29:30 His career regret
1:29:47 Best advice ever received
1:31:15 Advice to the 20 year old who contemplates going into politics
1:31:59 Brian’s summing up.


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