BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK Politics
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Tuesday, 6 March, 2001, 20:09 GMT
Ken's year outside the fold

Ken Livingstone accepts victory at the London mayoral count
It was 12 months ago that maverick left-winger Ken Livingstone confirmed that he would run for London mayor as an independent candidate - against Labour's Frank Dobson. BBC News Online's Chris Hamilton takes a look back at the London mayor's year outside the Labour fold.

  • On Monday 6 March 2000, after weeks of speculation, Ken Livingstone sparks turmoil by announcing he is going back on his word not to run as an independent candidate for London mayor.

    I have been forced to choose between the party I love and upholding the democratic rights of Londoners

    On running as an independent
    He puts opposition to the government's plans for the Tube at the heart of his appeal to the electorate, saying "the break-up and partial privatisation of the Underground is overwhelmingly rejected by Londoners".

    He is suspended from the Labour Party and branded a "liar" by former health secretary Frank Dobson, who emerged from a controversial internal election as the official Labour candidate despite more people having voted for Mr Livingstone.

  • The eight-week election campaign gets underway with Mr Livingstone appealing for funds. Outspoken DJ Chris Evans donates 100,000 - increased to 200,000 following public comments on the donation by a dismissive Mr Dobson.

  • In April the Brent East MP is expelled from Labour for "at least five years" - but he shrugs off his removal from the party he has been a member of for more than 30 years as a "trial separation".

  • Conservative mayoral candidate Steve Norris calls Mr Livingstone's policies "confused and vacuous" while Liberal Democrat hopeful Susan Kramer portrays herself as the only realistic "stop Ken" candidate.

  • Tony Blair spearheads Labour's own energetic stop-Ken efforts, calling on voters to ignore personality and venting his "real frustration" at a contest which he says has become a "policy-free zone".

    Every year the international financial system kills more people than World War Two. But at least Hitler was mad, you know?

    On global capitalism

  • Mr Livingstone's talent for an eye-catching turn of phrase features prominently in the campaign as he comments in passing during an interview that the international financial system kills more people than Hitler did.

    Uproar ensues - and soon the press corps following the campaign finds that Mr Livingstone, once ever-ready with quotes for journalists, has become much harder to track down.

  • But the "Ken 4 London" election juggernaut rolls inexorably on and the 4 May poll ends in a run-off in which Mr Livingstone beats Mr Norris by 57.92% of the vote to 42.08%.

  • Mr Livingstone wastes no time in engaging in battle with the government over the Tube, warning that he is prepared to go to court over its public-private partnership proposals.

  • After a low-key swearing in as mayor on 16 May, Mr Livingstone sets about constructing a "big tent", cross-party cabinet for the capital - but initially Labour refuses to co-operate until he backs down in his confrontation over the Tube.

    He agrees to set up an independent panel to review the issue and Labour Greater London Assembly member Nicky Gavron agrees to become his deputy, signalling an apparent thaw in relations with at least some parts of his former party.

    Yes, it's sound logic - if you're ever going to bring me back, bring me back quickly

    On re-joining Labour

  • But despite growing pressure from Labour's grassroots, trade unions and some MPs, the party hierarchy refuses to change its mind about speeding his readmittance.

  • Early moves by the new mayor include pledging to introduce gay and lesbian "marriages", putting London at the forefront of the campaign to join the euro and confirms that he will stand down as an MP at the next general election - saying "it is not really a job for grown-ups".

  • Before long, and as promised, transport takes centre stage when in July Mr Livingstone proposes charging drivers 5 a day to enter the capital.

  • The Tube row re-ignites in September when Mr Livingstone again threatens the government with legal action.

    The proposal I've got in front of me now, I have not the slightest doubt, if it goes ahead, Londoners will die

    On government Tube plans
    A month later he gives the job of transport commissioner to American Bob Kiley, who is credited with turning round New York's subway system.

    Eyebrows are raised not just at the thought of a the prominent left-wing rebel linking up with an ex-CIA agent, but also at the 2m Belgravia house and 2m four-year rumuneration package the commissioner's post brings with it.

    But Mr Kiley's loyalty to the cause is put beyond doubt in December when he describes the government's Tube proposals "fatally flawed".

  • The same month, attempts to stage a giant New Year's Eve party in the capital fall apart. Mr Livingstone blames London Underground management's reluctance to run Tube services.

  • Meanwhile Mr Livingstone has to fight a rearguard action against opponents, including sitcom writer Carla Lane and former sports minister Tony Banks, of his plan to ban the sale of pigeonfeed from Trafalgar Square.

    The last seller leaves in February after reaching an out-of-court settlement with Mr Livingstone, who objects to the mess and potential disease caused by the "flying rats".

    I haven't a clue who they are

    On Trafalgar Square statues
    Four months earlier he called for the removal of two statues of generals in the square, saying they were now widely unknown.

  • In February Mr Livingstone risks having millions slashed off his mayoral budget until makes several concessions to GLA members - whose key power lies in rejecting the mayor's budget. The result is a 22.6% rise in the council precept - rather than the 31% originally proposed by Mr Livingstone.

  • As the anniversary of his independent declaration approaches in March, the same issue as a year before dominates his agenda: the government's plans for the Tube.

    He accuses ministers of reneging on a deal they struck just a month before and says people could die if their plan goes ahead. Court action will proceed within weeks, he predicts.

  • Search BBC News Online

    Advanced search options
    Launch console
    See also:

    02 Mar 01 | UK Politics
    Mayor warns of Tube plan deaths
    09 Jul 00 | UK Politics
    Livingstone to stand down as MP
    09 Oct 00 | UK Politics
    American appointed to run Tube
    28 Jul 00 | UK
    London drivers face car tax
    11 Jul 00 | UK Politics
    Mayor aims to lead euro campaign
    01 Jul 00 | UK Politics
    Livingstone pledges gay 'marriage'
    16 May 00 | UK Politics
    Livingstone reaches Tube deal
    Internet links:

    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

    Links to more UK Politics stories are at the foot of the page.

    E-mail this story to a friend

    Links to more UK Politics stories