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Mayor of London Ken Livingstone
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW WITH LONDON MAYOR KEN LIVINGSTONE, APRIL 29TH, 2001

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: Now Ken Livingstone celebrates one year in the job next week, we've been talking about him, spirits will be high when he joins Nelson Mandela and Tony Blair in Trafalgar Square this afternoon, but not everything is rosy in Livingstone's London with the May Day Demonstration coming up which caused such damage and mayhem in and around Whitehall last year. Another tube strike, tube strike due to be coming up and the whole future of the tube still unresolved. The Mayor of London himself joins us from our Brighton studio. Good morning Ken. KEN LIVINGSTONE: Morning David. DAVID FROST: Let's start with that May Day situation, are you confident that the measures that have been taken will be sufficient to succeed? KEN LIVINGSTONE: I certainly hope so, we, I think, have got across to people that this is not a demonstration that's being planned in the traditional way, the organisers won't negotiate with the police, won't even contact the police about the route they want and for them the objective is scenes of mayhem like we saw last year. Now last year a lot of innocent people got caught up in that, I don't think anyone has any illusions about the motives of the organisers this time round. And so I'm hoping they'll keep the numbers down and that will allow the police to concentrate on trying to identify the ringleaders who all got away last year. DAVID FROST: And what's your message to those ringleaders this morning? KEN LIVINGSTONE: Well all I'd say is this, if you really believe in cancelling Third World debt and saving the environment then beating the hell out of a police officer or smashing in a shop window is merely going to alienate public opinion, you'll actually damage the causes you serve. DAVID FROST: Right, and so it's zero tolerance from the police and really cracking down on protestors threatening violence straight away? KEN LIVINGSTONE: I mean the slightest sign of violence people will be arrested. But the problem in this is it looks as though they aim to try and target Oxford Circus, there'll be a lot of innocent people around. If someone throws something through a plate glass window you can get those shards of glass, blind or killed, it does seem to me, it doesn't show very much concern for Londoners or for shop workers frankly. DAVID FROST: And what about the, the tensions as they build, there's been so much publicity about what happened last year, some people say the police over-reacted last year, but, but there's going to be more of them this year, do you think there's almost too much preoccupation with May Day because of last year? KEN LIVINGSTONE: Well I mean I think the complaints last year were more that, you know the police, I mean didn't crack down harder but last year I think we were all caught a bit by surprise by the scale of the violence that had been planned and this is quite specifically planned, it's not that this is a demonstration that went wrong. The objective was those scenes of mayhem and because you are talking about people who plan that, they come and they put on masks, it's difficult to get any shots of them and so on for the cameras and so they all got away, the ringleaders, last year. This year we're hoping that the crowd numbers will be well down and that will enable the police to try and identify the people we're still looking for for last year's crimes and if we get them they'll do time for last year as well as for what they're doing this year. DAVID FROST: When you said this phrase about a waste of time, that we were just talking about in the Sunday Times and then lower on it was the waste was, was having to deal with the tube and PPP, what did you mean, has the whole thing been a waste of time or has that been a waste of time? KEN LIVINGSTONE: No, I, I, this is a great job and I'm loving every minute of it, it just, you feel very frustrated, if the tube had been passed to me last year by now we'd be starting the improvement works. As it is we're still arguing with lawyers and so on and there's no clear sign any work will start much before the end of the year, if then. So a year, a vital year has, has been lost and the system is the worst it has ever been which is why, I mean I'm really eager, I just, I would beg the government and when I bump into Tony Blair at the Nelson Mandela concert later on I'm going to say this to him, just transfer it to Kiley now, let him get on with just trying to sort out the management which has collapsed. We've now got the boss of the underground announced that he's leaving, there's a complete collapse of the will to manage throughout the system which is why I think every Londoner will tell you, and certainly I know this having lived here for 55 years, I've never known the service so bad. On some lines one train in five isn't running. DAVID FROST: One in five on some lines? KEN LIVINGSTONE: Three lines, including my own, the Jubilee, I mean one train in five doesn't run. Now that is an unbelievable failure rate and that is because, I mean basically all the, that they have partially privatised the underground already, they've broken it up into four separate units ready for the privatisation and so we're already seeing that loss of central management control, the effect it's actually having, every Londoner feels it every day. DAVID FROST: And there's no way out except legal you think? KEN LIVINGSTONE: Well I'm hoping we'll still be able to get an agreement with the government so that we can go ahead rapidly but unless we can guarantee safety, I mean you have to go to court. I mean Bob Kiley sat in my office and I pushed him very hard on this point and I said if they split up the maintenance organisation in this way will it put safety at risk, he said yes, no equivocation, I mean no sort of qualification to that at all and when you're getting that advice from somebody like, everyone accepts is the, the most successful mass transit operator that we've got around at the moment, then you have to, you have to accept that. DAVID FROST: And are you, are you in fact hopeful that the tube strike, one of the other potential nightmares, may be averted by meetings on Monday or later meetings, do you think there's a good chance of that? KEN LIVINGSTONE: No I'm very pessimistic, I mean I can't give the unions the guarantees on safety they require because I'm not running the system, neither can Bob Kiley. I think if the tube was passed to Bob Kiley on Monday morning we might be able to do it, but that isn't going to happen and so I think, and I also am getting information that the rank and file, the workforce are getting so sort of angry and confused about what's going on, this has been going on for years these discussions about breaking up the underground into four units, that you've got a collapse of morale amongst the workforce. So I mean I'm not all certain that even if the trade union leaders instructed their members to go to work this week they would actually do so. DAVID FROST: And as you said you're meeting Tony Blair later, do you think he'll return you into the fold of the Labour Party today? KEN LIVINGSTONE: Oddly enough I, I've always stopped thinking about that, when you've got the May Day riots coming, the tube strike, the court case on the underground, I mean the question whether I'm ever going to be back in the Labour Party has slipped down the agenda a bit. DAVID FROST: Ken thank you very much indeed, have a good day. KEN LIVINGSTONE: And you. DAVID FROST: Ken Livingstone. END

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