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17 September 1987
If voting changed anything, they’d abolish it 
by Ken Livingstone.
Collins, 367 pp., £12, August 1987, 0 00 217770 6
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A Taste of Power: The Politics of Local Economics 
edited by Maureen Mackintosh and Hilary Wainwright.
Verso, 441 pp., £22.95, July 1987, 0 86091 174 8
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... A ‘new London’ was created, which extended well into the safe Tory areas in Surrey, Kent and Essex. The new authority seemed certain to be Conservative in perpetuity, but just in case it didn’t turn out that way, the Government stripped the London County Council of most of its more crucial functions, control over which passed to the new ...

Last Leader

Neal Ascherson

7 June 1984
Citizen Ken 
by John Carvel.
Chatto, 240 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 7011 3929 3
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... idle luxury – music, dancing, relating to each other, the constant flow of conversation’. So Ken Livingstone might imagine the first inhabitants of the GLC area. They call him a Trot, but there is much more in him of a far older generation of palaeo-socialists. For Livingstone believes in a social version of the ...
26 October 1989
Livingstone’s Labour: A Programme for the Nineties 
by Ken Livingstone.
Unwin Hyman, 310 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 0 04 440346 1
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... life of the Council Chamber to the histrionics of the House of Commons proved hard to make. Ken Livingstone is in lineal descent from Herbert Morrison. Until it was abolished from under him by Mrs Thatcher, he led the GLC which had replaced the London County Council in the Sixties. But there the parallel ends. At its best, the LCC was an ...

Do you like him?

Ian Jack: Ken Livingstone

10 May 2012
You Can’t Say That: Memoirs 
by Ken Livingstone.
Faber, 710 pp., £9.99, April 2012, 978 0 571 28041 4
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... Of the two leading rivals for the London mayoralty, Ken Livingstone is much the more difficult to imagine as a child. Nobody, surely, can have that problem with Boris Johnson. The mind’s eye sees Boris as one of Belloc’s Cautionary Tales, a bouncy fellow demanding his tea and laying plans ‘to be/the next Prime Minister but three ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: Ken or Boris?

10 April 2008
... per cent wins the election outright. (This doesn’t seem likely: the best performance so far was Ken Livingstone’s 39 per cent in 2000.) If no one has 50 per cent, the top two candidates have their second-choice votes added to their first-choice, and the one with the most votes is the winner. At the start of the campaign, opinion polls were showing ...


Anne Sofer: The Silliest Script Ever Written

1 September 1983
... at Kinnock’s failure to vote for Tony Benn for the Deputy Leadership, and his part in blocking Ken Livingstone’s claims to Brent East on the NEC, may attract more votes – in all three sections – from the Kinnock camp than is at present estimated. Peter Shore, the other candidate who appeared to be speaking to the electorate, will, I’d ...

Yes, we have no greater authority

Dan Hawthorn: The constraints facing the new administration for London

13 April 2000
... The GLA will also have less power to offer financial and political support to external projects: Ken Livingstone’s controversial support for minority groups in the early 1980s could not be repeated. Another qualification: the GLA – made up of the mayor and 25 elected members – is not an example of devolved government in the same sense as the ...

The London Bombs

John Sturrock: In Bloomsbury

21 July 2005
... attempts to pin the blame for the Madrid bombings on the Basque separatists. The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, did a lot better than the prime minister. Instead of coming out with airy and pious abstractions about ‘the British way of life’, or about our ‘civilisation’ and their ‘barbarism’, he spoke specifically and concretely of ...

Short Cuts

Helen Thompson: West Ham Disunited

25 April 2018
... played since 1904, for a new stadium in Stratford, and no one in the office of the London mayor, Ken Livingstone, imagined they were constructing an Olympic stadium that a football club could inherit when the games were over. In 2013 the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) and West Ham, under the majority ownership of David Gold and David ...

In Walthamstow

Rosemary Hill: William Morris

13 September 2012
... list of Labour opponents to the plans was a roll-call of the old guard, headed by Tony Benn and Ken Livingstone. The curatorial staff, feeling that their union, Unison, was similarly reluctant to get into a dispute with the Labour council, accepted redundancy. With the keeper Peter Cormack went thirty years’ knowledge of the collections as well as ...

Bus Lane Strategy

Tristram Hunt: London Governments

31 October 2002
Governing London 
by Ben Pimlott and Nirmala Rao.
Oxford, 208 pp., £15.99, May 2002, 0 19 924492 8
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... on the rates paid for town halls, museums, libraries, baths and parks. The 1867 Reform Act quickened the civic spirit by enfranchising leaseholders, thereby easing the stranglehold of the rate-paying ‘shopocracy’ over local government. The voluntarism of the mid-Victorian city slowly gave way to the municipalism of the later 19th century. Yet as ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: Tony and Jeremy

19 April 2017
... it is not just Benn himself who is drawn to the flame. Eric Heffer, Audrey Wise, Michael Meacher, Ken Livingstone and others feature in earnest discussions about whether the time is right for another attempt to capture the flag and how the forces are assembled. The votes of the unions and the membership seem to allow the possibility that the ...

Little Mercians

Ian Gilmour: Why Kenneth Clarke should lead the Tories

5 July 2001
... self-indulgence began immediately after the 1997 election, when the Parliamentary Party rejected Kenneth Clarke as its next leader. Clarke was unquestionably the best of the candidates and indeed the only one who was unquestionably qualified for the job. Yet Conservative MPs preferred William Hague, who should not even have stood that time round, let alone ...

Aldermanic Depression

Andrew Saint: London is good for you

4 February 1999
London: A History 
by Francis Sheppard.
Oxford, 442 pp., £25, November 1998, 0 19 822922 4
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London: More by Fortune than Design 
by Michael Hebbert.
Wiley, 50 pp., £17.99, April 1998, 0 471 97399 8
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... James and Conrad slipped into the illusionary language of the dark sublime. London was dismal, blackened, sick, cruel and unplanned, concurred the charitable and the analytic; the sooner the authorities could draw the working population and their smokestacks out to the countryside and lance Cobbett’s ‘wen’, the better. By the Twenties, London was ...

Scaling Up

Peter Wollen: At Tate Modern

20 July 2000
... east of the South Bank Centre began to organise to defend their homes. In 1984, with support from Ken Livingstone and the GLC, they fought off the property developers, founded housing co-operatives and opened up the area around what are now Bernie Spain Gardens and the converted Oxo Tower Wharf, thus lengthening the Thames Path, so that eventually there ...

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