LONDON ELECTION 2012: Livingstone defeated as colourful political career comes to an end


Livingstone, the king of political comebacks and a 40 year politics veteran, lost out to Boris Johnson in the mayoral election.


By Daniel Chipperfield and Matthew Reason

Ken Livingstone, the king of political comebacks and a 40 year London politics veteran, has failed to return as Mayor of London.

He was narrowly beaten by incumbent mayor Boris Johnson whose political personality held out against a tidal wave of Labour victories with a 3% gap.

At 66 Livingstone will not be fighting an election again, with Tottenham MP David Lammy already tipped to run in 2016.

He said: “This is my last election. 41 years ago, almost to the day, I won my first election. Since then I have won 11 more elections and lost three but the one I most regret losing is this.”

He used his speech to congratulate Johnson and attack the Prime Minister’s austerity policy.

“But I hope the closeness of this result didn’t give the Prime Minister indigestion over dinner,” he said.

“Whilst Cameron is dragging the Tory party down, I suspect this result has settled the result of the next Tory leadership election.”

Livingstone expressed deep regret over failing his team and the Labour party.

“It’s been a gruelling campaign and I apologise to all those people that worked so hard for me at this election. I’m truly sorry that I couldn’t pull this victory off but I’m incredibly proud of our team and their hard work,” he said.

“Some papers dictated these elections as a conflict between two men when in reality it was about the lives of eight million Londoners,” he continued.

“And I think democracy is undermined when those who own newspapers fill them with trvia far from the real issues. And I wonder if the negativity and the smears that dominated this election played a part in Birmingham and Manchester rejecting the idea of elected mayors for their cities.”

Livingstone was highly critical of the media in his concession speech.

“I think how different the result may have been if the BBC hadn’t cancelled that question time debate and stopped candidates being interviewed on the today programme. 

“Irrespective of bias in the media Labour will win the debate on how to build an economy that works for all in a fairer setting because we must.

“Our politics is at a turning point. These teenagers are the first generation of English men and women who face a worse prospect than their parents this is because the aggressive free market agenda set by the Tory party 30 years ago has failed to deliver the sound economy the promised.”

The dragged out results meant Livingstone didn’t know his fate until nearly midnight. He chalked up 992,273 votes to Johnson’s 1,054,811.

Livingstone had a long political career – twice holding a leading political role in London – first as Leader of the Greater London Council in 1981 before being elected Mayor of London for two terms from 2000.

He was a Labour MP for Brent East from 1987 up until 2001, remaining MP alongside being Mayor for a short while.

Ever at the centre of controversy Livingstone was expelled from the Labour Party after he ran successfully as an independent candidate in 2000.

Then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, shunned Livingstone in favour of Frank Dobson.

Tory leader William Hague quipped: “Why not split the job in two, with Frank Dobson as your day mayor and Ken Livingstone as your nightmare?”

Livingstone divided opinion and was forever the controversial character and politician.

He froze bus fares for four years and then doubled them, he launched the Oyster Card but increased the single fare and he brought in the controversial congestion charge.

Livingstone was quick to denounce the July 7th bombings in 2005 telling perpetrators: “Whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail.”

In 2002 Livingstone introduced an annual Saint Patrick’s Day festival to London to celebrate the contributions of the Irish to London.

Livingstone re-joined the Labour Party in 2004 and successfully received the party nomination for this mayoral election.

Livingstone, known for his socialist views, appeared in a 80s advert endorsing Red Leicester playing on his popular moniker ‘Red Ken’.

Divorced in 1982, Livingstone has two children with his office manager, Emma Beal.

In 2008 it was revealed that he is the father of three other children. Livingstone has said he was acting as a donor for friends who wanted children.

During childhood he kept reptiles and had several as pets. He is known to breed and keep newts.

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