Ken Livingstone today gave his first in-depth television interview as Labour’s mayoral candidate. It was hugely revealing. It told Londoners what he has learnt from the 2008 campaign, whether he has changed, his record in office, his new policies and his motivation for running again.
Speaking to Tim Donovan on the Politics Show Mr Livingstone:
- refused to accept any responsibility for losing the last election, instead blaming the Labour government.
- refused to learn any lessons from the 2008 election result, apparently telling one million Londoners who voted against him that they punished him for Gordon Brown’s failings and not his own,
- accepted that he played around with fares while in office by freezing them only in an election year,
- gave no new policy ideas,
- revealed he was a deficit denier by saying the cuts had to stop,
- revealed his primary motivation to win the 2012 election was to fight the Tory government.
Or, if you would prefer, in Mr Livingstone’s own words:
On why he lost in 2008:
“I did have the misfortune to be facing an election just as the British economy went into recession – that didn’t help. And internal polling the party did showed that Labour’s figures and mine went off a precipice after the budget when the 10p tax band was wiped out.”
On whether it was just Labour that lost him the 2008 election
“Let’s be honest [the general election] was Labour’s worst election result for 60 years up and down the country.”
On what he has learnt from the 2008 mayoral election:
“I don’t spend my time agonising about the past.”
On whether he has changed
“Is this going to be like the conflict between Ken and Thatcher? It isn’t because I’m not facing Thatcher.”
Again on whether he has changed
“It’s a different world.”
And again on whether he has changed
“Everyone changes all the time.”
On why he would make a good Mayor for London:
“One really good thing, is that I don’t hit the ground and have to spend two years working out how to do the job.”
On his vision for the next four years
“I’m not going to go into a whole load of promises.”
On what he delivered for outer London when he was Mayor
“Everyday of my life I have lived in zone 3 you know, or zone 4.”
On why he played around with fares while in office, freezing them only in an election year
“Because we had reserves.”
On raising council tax by 153% while in office
“If it was wrong why hasn’t the current Mayor cut it.”
On how he will make savings if he gets back in
“Any savings you can find, back office functions, amalgamation of services, senior level, all that stuff you do.”
For the record: When the current Mayor came into office he slashed City Hall’s wage bill by £8million a year compared to the previous administration.
For the record: The wages of Ken Livingstone’s closest advisors almost doubled from £66,000 to £111,000 in his second term. Just before they were voted out of office they changed the rules so they could collect pay-offs totalling £1.6million.
On becoming Mayor again
“If I win it will be a body blow to this government. It is the first chance people will have to say you are cutting too far, cutting too deep. Enough is enough.”