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Tuesday, 25 April, 2000, 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK
London Mayor: Can anyone catch Ken?

Ken Livingstone, the independent candidate has charged ahead in the race to become London's first elected mayor.

Despite the latest poll suggesting that his rating has slipped, he remains at just under 50% and his nearest rivals are still more than 30 points behind him.

It looks like it should be a forgone conclusion, and the Green candidate for mayor Darrren Johnson has already conceeded defeat.

But Labour's Frank Dobson will be hoping PM Tony Blair's campaigning stint with him this week will lift him in the polls and both Tory Steve Norris and Liberal Democrat Susan Kramer still insist the race is still their's to be won.

At the same time, is Mr Livingstone becoming his own worst enemy? Recent remarks linking the morality of the world's financial system to that of the Nazis may upset many in a city whose financial system provides thousands of jobs - and cause offence elsewhere.

So with just three weeks to go until the capital decides, can anyone catch Ken?

HAVE YOUR SAY I think the only suitable way forward is to vote for a candidate that focuses just on London and its people. Third World debt and International Finance our National Issues not London ones. Come on candidates - focus!
Cheryl, UK

I hope and pray that Livingstone wins the election. Personally I feel he is the right man for the job - he has experience (from the GLC days) BUT most important, he is a man who speaks his mind. We need a mayor who will be able to have independent thinking, NOT a YES man.
I believe those who want to vote for Frank Dobson also have their good reasons. But what are they?
Jilly Crawford, Switzerland



He is in fact totally out of tune with everything that makes London successful today.

Marcus, UK
It's quite funny: there is a politician as left as Ronald Reagan was right with no principles, policies or partners to speak of but he will win an election because the alternative to this loony is so boring, bland and dull that it hurts. He is in fact totally out of tune with everything that makes London successful today - but then, the ex-pats who are the true majority in this City won't (or can't) vote.
Ken's obviously only going to win this time because all he will do is polarise and drive up the cost of living in London. Here it is again: the populace gets the ruler it deserves.
Marcus, UK

There is one issue I haven't heard mentioned so far. Housing. House price increases in and around London may be slowing down, but they are still rising. How are the nurses/firemen/policemen etc. who are there to support the general public going to support themselves if they can't even afford a place to live?
Patrick Seurre, UK

I strongly suspect Londoners will regret they voted for Ken Livingstone as a protest vote against Tony Blair.
One need only look to New York to see the mayor's role is vital to the well being of the city. Ken Livingston's politics and policies are too similar to the truly awful David Dinkins for comfort.
Jeff, New York



Ken's a decent guy who cares passionately about London and wants to be a popular success with a legacy he can be proud of.

Chris, London, UK
Ken's going to try hard to do a good job for London as he did last time, but he admits he's learnt a lot and that means he'll do even better this time and he was good last time. Let's stop all this scare mongering, Ken's a decent guy who cares passionately about London and wants to be a popular success with a legacy he can be proud of.
He'll do fine - which is more than can be said for many of the bigots opposing him from New Labour. They are so much happier churning out old Thatcherite policies than thinking about people's real needs that they oppose Ken instinctively as they oppose anyone who challenges their elite view.
Chris, London, UK

Ken is using pointless popularity issues to get back into office, and he does not focus on important policies.
It could also be due to the fact that he is running because he lost control of London before, and is facing withdrawal symptoms.
Michael Winton, London, UK

Sadly the Labour Government has become arrogant too fast - something needs to be done to shake them back into line. I personally am not a lover of 'Red Ken', but he gets my vote because of Blair's behaviour.
Patrick B, UK



Tony Blair is paying the price of his arrogance and determination to impose his control on everything.

Tony, UK
Tony Blair is paying the price of his arrogance and determination to impose his control on everything. It is complete hypocrisy to label Livingstone a liar for refusing to accept the results of a rigged contest. As for Livingstone's comments on the financial, the terminology is clumsy but the facts remain; debt is crippling Third World countries and thereby worsening the conditions of their inhabitants. To use Ken's frank approach on the matter to portray him as a rabid left-winger threatening the city is pathetic.
Tony, UK

Can we just clear up one thing? Margaret Thatcher abolished Ken Livingstone's GLC because it was a success, and a popular one to boot. If it had been a failure, she would have been happy to leave it in place as an example of socialist incompetence. She was vicious, arrogant and dictatorial, but not stupid.
John Rogers, England



Let's focus on POLICY! The rest of Europe is laughing at us!

Maria Sciara, England
Why are we talking about "catching out Ken"? Let's focus on POLICY! The rest of Europe is laughing at us! Face it. Ken Livingstone's policies have a lot of substance and will work. Ken has been talking about policy for the last two years and now, Steve Norris and Frank Dobson have incorporated Ken's ideas into their own manifestos!
Maria Sciara, England

Rolf Harris would walk it. Tim Rice might have had a reasonable chance. Too bad we can't have a write in candidate. Carol Vorderman would be ideal. At least she'd be able to balance the budget!
Rich, UK

Roy Barker is a funny sort of True Blue if he is going to vote for a Marxist who's closest political allies are Sinn Fein. No Conservative in their right mind could vote for such a candidate though I gather many intend to. Livingstone wants to close the city to have an annual St Patrick's day parade. What relevance is that to most Londoners?
Peter Whitehead, United Kingdom

Ken is a fibber, power-hungry and devious. Trouble is, he's relatively open and honest about this, so he's a step above most of the politicians that are in the game at the moment. Fair play to him.
Alastair Alexander, UK

If he does [win] it will be because of an act of stupid childish rebellion by the electorate. And we all know that the consequences will be highly damaging.
Andrew Day, London



if you think American style PC is exactly what London needs - Vote for Ken!

R Gregory, USA (from England
I agree with John B's comments. I am in no way homophobic or racist, however as an Englishman living in America I know only to well what its like to have political correctness thrown in your face everywhere you go from the workplace to TV shows i.e. racial quotas, sexual preferences, and limited free speech. So if you think American style PC is exactly what London needs - Vote for Ken! Or if you want to remain a free society with no PC quotas which stirs up race relations: Vote for Ken's biggest threat (if there is one)!
R Gregory, USA (from England)

I think it is treason to his 'cross-party' support for him to back the Greens for the assembly. Before that I was backing him wholeheartedly.
R.A.H, UK

As a Tory traditional voter, I am also putting my weight behind Ken Livingstone. In an ideal world, I feel the Mayor should not be a Party Political figure, although by its nature, the roll needs a good knowledge of the workings of Westminster. Ideally the candidate should be a true independent, a character and preferably a maverick.
This is why Ken is attraction cross-party support, he is the closest to this ideal scenario that our tired party political system has to offer. In the US there are well known leaders of business, enterprise and commerce who stand for office, and use their business record and notoriety to promote themselves. Here all we can suggest is Richard Branson - Oh Dear!!
Sťan, London, England



This first mayor of London contest could have been an interesting event but has been a complete farce.

Neil, Scotland - ex Londoner
This first mayor of London contest could have been an interesting event but has been a complete farce. It started when the votes were rigged by Blair and his cronies and as such a protest vote is now the result. This election hasn't been fought on policies but personalities and corruption, so whoever gets into office (probably ken) will have done so on the back of the ridiculous situation which London finds itself in.
Neil, Scotland - ex Londoner

The chances of Frank Dobson winning the post of mayor is as likely as a wine shop opening in Saudi Arabia. Nuff said!
Adam, London, UK

I think that Ken Livingstone will make a great mayor and I support him.
Francis, Britain

A vote for Ken is a vote for a more entertaining "Question Time"; and he would deliver on that. But what other embarrassment comes with the package....
Steve, England

No I don't see how the lead he has can be significantly reduced. I disagreed with Ken last year when we discussed the Nato bombing of Serbia, yet despite this I believe he is well informed on the UK political system.
His remarks on the world "financial system" are frankly not a big deal to those who have some knowledge of international economics, it is only the ignorant and those with vested interests that cry foul. In a democracy one is free to state their position, so far as I can see they are either correct or incorrect, and assuming that the facts are relevant, then Ken is quite right to denounce the "system" as he has.
Hugh Gleaves, UK



Unless he makes a huge mistake in the coming weeks I can't see him being beaten.

Paul R, UK
I'm surprised that Frank Dobson hasn't figured out yet that the Blair factor is costing him significant votes. Regardless of what you think of Ken, he doesn't pander to spin doctors and he speaks his mind even if his views are controversial. Unless he makes a huge mistake in the coming weeks I can't see him being beaten.
Paul R, UK

If people want to send Tony Blair a warning, they should vote for Susan Kramer, the Liberal Democrat candidate. Livingstone is neither wise nor trustworthy. As Mayor, his remarks could cost jobs in the City of London. And he has shamelessly broken his promise not to stand against the Labour candidate.
George Kendall, England

Livingstone is going to win, and it is great for democracy, a return to the great days of politicians with skill, and policies, and away from mere spin. At least I hope so as I've got a bet on him winning.
R. Griffiths, Essex



I think Ken will spend his energies on trivia such as making sure the Tube employs enough gay drivers rather than whether the trains run on time.

John B, UK
I sincerely hope Ken doesn't win it. It's good that he is interested in serving minorities, but by definition the majority of people are not minorities. Slamming global capitalism will win him extremist votes, but what about those of us that rely on working for a company to keep a roof over our heads?
The issues I am interested in, and I suspect I speak for a lot of people besides myself, is being able to get in and out of central London quickly and efficiently, freedom from crime and fear of crime, health and education, and cleanliness.
I think Ken will spend his energies on trivia such as making sure the Tube employs enough gay drivers rather than whether the trains run on time. When you're sat on a delayed crowded tube, who cares what the driver prefers?
John B, UK

The ability to wind up both Tony Blair AND Margaret Thatcher at a single stroke - how can anyone resist voting for Ken Livingstone?
Ben, UK

Although I don't live in London presently. I am angered by Ken's comments on fox hunting recently. I live near Exmoor when in England where fox hunting takes place, does this mean my commons representative will have a say in London on tube privatisation for example or is there a secret hunt meet in Hyde park every Sunday. Come on Kenny stop being a shameless vote grabber and keep to the issues.
Andrew Lerwill, England

If we go beyond the 'historical revisionism', what exactly was Ken's failures/ achievements before The Conservative government's abolition of the GLC?
Rob Shorrock, UK

I will not vote for anybody that works with terrorists! Ken Livingstone would do anything to gain support, even condemn moderate democracy.
Mark, London



The big issue is transport and only two candidates have a practical plan to get the massive influx of cash necessary

Mark, London, UK
The big issue is transport and only two candidates have a practical plan to get the massive influx of cash necessary for Tube expansion and modernisation - Ken Livingstone and Susan Kramer. No private company or consortium can afford it and Frank Dobson will "wait and see". A major bond issue is the main way to go and Londoners will vote for Ken because he's the more viable (even if he has somewhat swiped Kramer's plan).
Mark, London, UK

Sometimes in a campaign "less is more." If he keeps his views to himself a bit more, he'll win. And I doubt Labour will be able to impact his run, the way Labour has been fading, Labour will soon be lucky to hold onto what it already has!
Stephen Kenney, USA

Poetic Justice! It is right and proper that Ken Livingston should now be Lord Mayor of London after the voice of the people of London was silenced by Margaret Thatcher. And the sooner Labour are able to wrap their minds around the justice in that, the better.
Stewart, Phoenix AZ, USA

The only candidate worth backing is Susan Kramer. She has excellent policies on transport (and unlike Livingstone she has consistent views) and she has a record in turning public transport systems around. Unlike both Norris and Dobson, she was democratically selected by her partner. Let us never forget that London Tories actually preferred Archer to him. With Dobson's support is falling she is the only person who can realistically beat Livingstone - especially when second preferences come into play.
Mark Morris, England

Ken's out of party politics and is now able to speak his mind - and the truth - about the big financial institutions. All power to his elbow.
Maurice, England



Whilst he may have extreme views, he genuinely is concerned about London and the people who live there

Roy Barker, Turkey
As a London homeowner and a true blue conservative it is perhaps surprising that I will vote for Ken. The crucial reason is that Ken is an appealing rogue character and whilst he may have extreme views, my overpowering feeling is that he genuinely is concerned about London and the people who live there. I would never vote for the Blair candidate or the far less appealing Tory - Ken will win and as a result London will be in safe hands at least for the next few years.
Roy Barker, Turkey

Mr Livingstone is still the same power-hungry lunatic who brought about his own temporary downfall when the Tories decided that disbanding the GLC was infinitely better and cheaper than trying to work with it. I was a child in the early eighties but my eyes are not blinded by Ken's carefully manipulated shining aura. Beneath it is someone who will put minority issues before the mainstream, will not hesitate to spend public money as he wishes and will definitely surround himself with as many cronies as he can cram into the shiny new and wasteful building being planned for London's new layer of sponging politicians. The only solace I would draw from Ken's election is that this would upset the rotten Blair juggernaut and would also in the long run show people that the loony left is alive and kicking - kicking the honest decent law-abiding taxpayer.
James Denning, UK

If he keeps on opening his mouth, yes.
Brian, UK

On a lighter note, I think there is little chance in stopping Ken Livingstone from becoming London's Mayor. Although having the same name, myself, if I were to apply, surely half of London's population would accidentally pick me instead of the real Ken Livingstone!
Kenny Livingstone, UK

I think Ken Livingstone's remarks on the world financial system were way too far fetched. Only a Socialist or even a Communist would come out with something so ridiculous or ideological! It's not that I don't care about third world countries, he obviously does not want people to make a successful living for themselves, is that not an extremist view? Supposing Ken Livingstone was a right-winger and came out with ultra-right views, he would be slammed as a xenophobic or a Nazi and would have no chance of winning the mayoral contest! I guess these days its OK to be an extremist, providing your a left-winger!
Richard, Wales

Most of you fools voting for the Labour party have not got a brain between you!
Graham, England



Why on earth would Londoners vote for a man who clearly showed his inability to run the capital before?

Mark Shaw, Hong Kong
Why on earth would Londoners vote for a man who clearly showed his inability to run the capital before, the GLC was abolished mostly because of him in the first place. Do people have that short a memory? He maybe a passionate, independent thinking politician but he and his policies are thoroughly misguided and out of date.
Mark Shaw, Hong Kong

I suppose it is too much to ask for a candidate that has the right skills for the job as opposed to the puppets that have been put forward?
Marty, Australia

Ken Livingston...What does he stand for? We all know what he doesn't like! What is his plan to make London a better place? He is a professional politician with no experience in anything else than seeking re-election.... When will people come and serve after being a success in private life.... Contributing in public life and then returning to a private career.... It's time for term limits...
Douglas G., England

If Ken loses in London we would be happy to have him as Mayor of Houston. Our lousy Mayor, Lee P. Brown, like Tony Blair, does whatever the business community tells him to do. Viva Ken!
Neil Aquino, Houston, USA



The mayoral election is about London and Londoners concerns.

Mark Woodward, UK
Ken's comments on global capitalism may be seen as 'gaffes' by the pinstripe brigade, they may even lose him some votes. But they will also find support with many Londoners who wholeheartedly agree with such 'discredited' notions as socialism and do not have a natural place with Frank Dobson or New Labour. The mayoral election is about London and Londoners concerns; while the City and its institutions are a part of London, their concerns are merely a small part of the issues Londoners must balance when they vote.
Mark Woodward, UK

I suspect that it will be difficult for any candidate to catch Ken Livingstone, although I think that Ken's ratings have much further to fall yet. What is absolutely clear is that neither Steve Norris nor Frank Dobson has a chance. The only candidate who might do surprisingly well is Susan Kramer who is likely to pick up a lot of second preferences if she is in the final run-off. So, if I was a betting man, Ken Livingstone would still be favourite but Susan Kramer is definitely the outsider to back.
Mark Goodrich, London, UK

Londoners aren't stupid. They will ignore articles by the press which blow Ken's remarks out of all proportion, we know him and we have seen this sort of thing happen for decades. He's elected, it's a foregone conclusion.
Steve N, London UK



I suggest he either sticks to the agenda or shuts-up!

Jassim Ahmad, UK/Canada
Ken likes to think he's one of us. Londoners aren't likely to see past the accent. With three weeks to go, if he wants to win, I suggest he either sticks to the agenda or shuts-up. He might have some good points about globalisation but he isn't doing himself any favours in the London race. My vote lies with Susan Kramer. You'd expect her to catch more of the female vote. Ken doesn't exactly appeal to the opposite sex.
Jassim Ahmad, UK/Canada

Who cares? I can't wait to see so much national debate when Birmingham or Liverpool etc. have the race for their mayors.
Simon Bayliss, England

Poor cuddly put upon Ken the most stable politician in the country; yes I'm sure! Although clumsily done - does everyone really think that the Labour party should have endorsed a candidate that never seems to support anything it does? Ken and his ilk helped give us eighteen years of Tory rule. Ken should have left years ago and had the guts to form a party he really believed in; an act that I would have respected.
Graham, England

There is only one person who can catch Ken - the only person who will get second preferences from Dobson AND Norris - and that is Susan Kramer. It is time for those who do NOT want Ken as mayor to realise that only tactical voting will keep him out - and that means voting for the person who most people are prepared to give a first or second preference to.
Mark Mitchell, London, UK

People don't want party politics, they want an infrastructure that works, spin or no spin. Jobs, Transport, Health and Education, which is what people care about. We may have good jobs, but if we cant catch a train, get good treatment when we are sick, or give our kids a decent education without sending them to private school, a good job doesn't have much value. I believe in Ken, and believe that he'll have a fair go at tackling these issues. If he can do that he'll go down in UK history as a great statesman, if he gets caught up in the minority issues, he's finished in British Politics.
Colin Williams, UK



It is a great shame that selection will probably not be made based on the abilities or policies of the candidates.

Bob Ferguson, UK
The protest vote against blatant "election rigging" by the Labour machine will ensure a victory for Ken Livingstone. It is a great shame that selection will probably not be made based on the abilities or policies of the candidates. London deserves an individual with the skills and abilities to run such a great city.
There is no doubting the passion of Mr Livingstone but there must be a question mark on his abilities given his track record. In the end personality will be the key decider for many voters, something that only three out of the four major candidates seem to have!
Bob Ferguson, UK

I believe that Ken Livingstone has shown vision and foresight by meeting Sinn Fein representatives at a time when the establishment were shunning them. If the British Government had listened to people like Ken, the peace process would have begun a lot earlier and more lives would have been saved. Good Luck Ken
P Davidson, Ireland



He is someone Blair cannot control. On this basis, I shall be voting for Ken Livingstone.

Jonathan L, United Kingdom
The Prime Minister is scared stiff of Ken Livingstone. He is someone Blair cannot control. On this basis, I shall be voting for Ken Livingstone. Only in Blair's Britain could the candidate who wins 80% of the votes lose to the one who gets 20%.
A victory for Ken Livingstone would be a nail in the coffin of this "new" Labour project, which has for too long distorted British politics and almost destroyed the Labour Party.
In his defence, Blair's support for Frank Dobson does at least show that the Prime Minister has a wicked sense of humour.
Jonathan L, United Kingdom

I do not see how Ken's remarks are offensive - they are not undervaluing the holocaust - I am sure that if anyone asked Ken what he thought about the holocaust he would say what any sane person believes that it was a terrible thing and we never want to see a repeat.
The fact is that disasters such as Bo-pahl (Union Carbides) and the Exon-Valdes disaster have caused far more loss of life AND damage to the environment which jeopardises the health of future generations.
Ed, UK

Ken will be the first elected London Mayor. He worked hard for it and deserve it. My opinion, Frank is not a suitable candidate for this job.
S Mylvaganam, UK



He has broad appeal especially with minority groups and this is what will count in London.

JN, London, UK
I think Ken is an experienced politician who chooses his words wisely when set in context. He has broad appeal especially with minority groups and this is what will count in London. The Mayor will have to have an ongoing dialogue with the ethnic and gay communities and none of the other candidates come close to his record.
The nearest is probably Frank Dobson supported by Trevor Philips. However Trevor does not have the wide support of the Black community because he has very little record of campaigning on race issues. I doubt if the presence of Tony Blair will help Frank. The voters of London are not stupid and can all see the results of Blair's intervention in the Welsh Assembly.
JN, London, UK

It is tricky forecasting results but in this case I would say that Ken is heading for a large victory. His remarks whilst imprudent and in the case of the Financial multinational comment just plain illogical don't dent his popularity as most people have decided to vote from him after his treatment by the Labour party.
I will be supporting Frank Dobson though as the official Labour candidate - although it is a bit strange to see Frank Dobson dismissing Ken for saying one thing to one audience and another to a different audience though. He must have a short memory!
Jason Thomas Williams, UK

I hope Ken wins, just to show people like Tony Blair that he can not force others to tow the line for the labour party. As to the remarks of the world's financial system and Hitler, there is nothing wrong with it as the Pope made a very similar remark and the rest of the world agreed with him. Ken's name will be dragged in mud by others because he is a true independent candidate. Good luck Ken.
Mike, UK



I know a lot of Londoners are voting for Ken as a means of giving Tony Blair a "slap in the face."

Steve West, UK
I know a lot of Londoners are voting for Ken as a means of giving Tony Blair a "slap in the face." The result of a Ken Livingstone victory is a big price to pay for this pleasure as anyone who remembers Mr Livingstone's track record from the GLC will remember.
Steve West, UK

Ken is, at least, a very honest man. Think about the statement he made about the Financial System. Third World debt is "killing" people everyday, where the 3rd world governments have to pay the interest on loans, hence less money to invest in health, education etc. The city is making huge amounts of money out of 3rd world debt. Before, you get upset on Ken's comments, think about it...Could he be telling the truth?
Mujnoo, UK


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