Mayoral Election: The Case Against...Ken Livingstone

By Jonn Last edited 75 months ago
Mayoral Election: The Case Against...Ken Livingstone

This week in our election coverage, we're pondering personalities. Yesterday, we asked the anti-Boris lobby to put the case against the Pfiffly one. Today it's the turn of the right — so we asked the libertarian blogger 'Devil's Kitchen' why he’d be voting anyone-but-Ken.

Your humble scribe is somewhat lazy so, as a preparation for this article, I decided to Tweet a request for links about Ken Livingstone. What I actually got was a deluge of replies suggesting that I simply write the c-word five hundred times.

And, frankly, I was tempted. Because, personally, I find Ken Livingstone particularly repulsive.

It’s not the assertions of scuffles at parties that I particularly deplore, nor the unpleasant traits revealed in his rants. These are things that would make most decent people question whether they’d want to count the man amongst their friends, but they pale into insignificance when set against Livingstone’s record as Mayor.

First, there are the broken promises and apparent lies. To pick a pertinent example, a few weeks ago, you might have seen some cold-looking people handing out flyers for Ken’s Fare Deal – flyers that informed us that Ken would reverse the 7% rise in fares on London travel.

But Ken’s past form, helpfully surveyed by the Crash Bang Wallace blog, raises questions about how credible that promise is. In September 2003, with an election coming up, Ken promised to peg fare rises to “no more than the rate of inflation”. In the event, tube fares rose at 1% over the rate of inflation. Bus fares went up by 10% over.

In December 2007 – with another election approaching – Ken told the London Assembly that “I intend to freeze Tube fares in real terms in 2009”. Of course, he lost that election – but by April 2008 leaked emails had emerged suggesting that when he made that pledge, Livingstone had already signed off on higher than inflation rises.

There is rank hypocrisy in the way Livingstone paints himself as a champion of the poor while simultaneously dipping his hand into their wallets. He raised the Mayor’s precept by a whopping 152% over eight years. And how did he spend that money? Well, there was the £10,000 on subscriptions for the socialist Morning Star; the £3 million per year promoting himself in The Londoner (that’s part of the nearly £28 million he spent on publicity over his tenure); he also spent a fortune propping up the London Development Agency (LDA), where “tens of millions” of pounds were “mis-spent on a massive scale” or just went plain missing.

There really is not enough space to detail all of the examples of waste under Livingstone’s regime – but I think it’s essential to highlight some of the sums spent on Ken’s undesirable habit of cosying up to murderous dictators. Some £20,500 was spent on one lunch for Hugo Chavez. Another £36,000 was blown on a junket to Cuba, so that Ken could cuddle up to Castro.

There are many reasons why Ken Livingstone is entirely unfit for the office of Mayor of London. I haven’t even touched on his support for alleged Islamic extremist, Lutfer Raman; nor his closeness to (and sympathy with) the unions, who will continue to force up transport costs. As Andrew Gilligan points out, the problem is Ken Livingstone has simply terrible judgement.

Given all of this, it's incredible how Ken Livingstone managed to convince the Labour Party to adopt him as its candidate yet again.

Image via the World Economic Forum under Creative Commons licence.

Last Updated 29 February 2012


Unions are democratic organisations with leaders voted for by its members. More democratic than most other organisation. Such Unions exist to pursue benefits and better working conditions for its members, just like trading organisations. What's your problem with Unions?

Adam White

Although I don't like the fact that he (allegedly) used £10k of public money to pay for subscriptions to the Morning Star, I'm glad to know he's reading it. I just wish he'd pay a little more attention to the message it's sending.

David Levy

Ken invented the current fare system. Stop examining the last 8 years with a microscope. There can be no question but that Ken supports cheaper fares, interesting you don't compare his fare increases with those under Johnson.

The rest of this article is basically, I don't like his friends, and he wastes ten's of thousands of pounds. So, I don't like Boris's friends, and he wast millions on the Borismaster, the Olympic Helter Skelter , the Bicycle Scheme and the Emirates Cable Car.


I admit that both I and BorisWatch could have simply pointed out that they are both politicians and are, obviously, both liars. However, I thought that I would attempt to provide some articles backing up the assertion.

 jaypeedee : "What's your problem with Unions?" Quite simply, the support given to them by government. They should not be able to distort the democratic process through massive amounts of funding (and the same applies to corporates) but, most importantly, it should not be illegal to sack striking workers.

@Chenobble : "Libertarians hate democracy..." No, we just don't worship democracy. The main point is that democracy is not the point of it all—freedom is. Democracy has been, so far, the best way of ensuring freedom for the longest time (until the next bloody revolution), but it is not an end in itself.

"They call it the 'tyranny of the majority'..." Because it is. The majority get to elect politicians—who, by the very nature of democratic re-election processes, will pander to that larger group of people—and so happily oppress the minority to do so. If you don't believe me, simply look at how politicians are oppressing the rich through vastly higher tax rates (clue: there are very few rich people, and lots of less rich people).

"Libertarians also hate anything that gets in the way of free market enterprise [...] unions are seen as an impediment to the free market because they stop business fully exploiting their employees." No. Unions—when not backed by government laws—are an entirely legitimate way for workers to rebalance power. It is the intervention of government—on both sides (corporate and union)—which makes them both enemies of the free market.

@David Levy : "There can be no question but that Ken supports cheaper fares..." He may well support cheaper fares: my point (delivered with evidence) was that he has—despite his "support" or his marketing—failed, consistently, to deliver them.

"... interesting you don't compare his fare increases with those under Johnson." My brief was to write about why Ken is deeply unsuitable, not why Boris is; this article has been shortened from it's original 700+ words as it is (and I could easily have written double the amount and still not touched on all of the corruption under Ken's rule).

In any case, why do you think that fares are going up 7%? Because the Tube drivers have demanded pay increases of not far less than that, plus energy is becoming massively expensive.

The first happens because the unions wish it so, and Ken is a supporter of those same unions; all other things being equal, he cannot support the interests of both the unions and the people of London.

The second is happening because of successive governments' policies on energy consumption, i.e. to tax it heavily (for a variety of reasons).