Ken Livingstone began his political career serving on Lambeth and Camden Councils, where he grew up, before becoming leader of the GLC in 1981 until Margaret Thatcher abolished it in 1986. He then served as Labour MP for Brent East from 1987 to 2001.
Livingstone was elected as the newly created Mayor of London in May 2000, running as an independent after the prime minister Tony Blair blocked him from running as the Labour candidate, and was re-elected for a second term in June 2004.
With strong ideas about how the capital should be run, Livingstone has never been afraid of controversy. He had the courage and vision to introduce the congestion charge and a transformation of the city’s ageing transport infrastructure to free up London’s traffic. He also successfully restored beat police and bus services. He took the decision to bid for the Olympics and was the driving force behind the capital’s successful 2012 bid. His leadership vision was for strong and diverse growth for London and successes in which all Londoners could share.
With the government he led the preparations to deal with the terrorist attack on London in July 2005. Fundamental improvements in environmental management are also central to Livingstone’s vision, and in 2007 he produced a climate change action plan which showed how London could reduce its carbon emissions by 60% in 20 years and by 80 to 90% by 2050.
Ken Livingstone has written four books: If Voting Changed Anything They’d Abolish It (1987), Livingstone’s Labour (1989), his autobiography You Can’t Say That (2011) and Being Red (2016). He co-hosted a live phone-in show on London’s LBC radio with David Mellor until 2016.
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