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Last Updated: Friday, 9 January, 2004, 15:36 GMT
Mayor's praise for 'gutsy' Blair
Ken Livingstone
Mr Livingstone offers Blair and Brown the hand of friendship
London Mayor Ken Livingstone has sought to make his peace with Tony Blair and Gordon Brown following his readmission to the Labour Party.

He praised the prime minister for "having the guts" to say he "was wrong" about his fears over the way Mr Livingstone would run the capital.

He also gave credit to the chancellor for his stewardship of the UK economy.

Mr Livingstone said being back in the party meant he could make the case for London more effectively.

Change of heart

Labour's National Executive voted on Tuesday to readmit Mr Livingstone to the fold after his suspension for standing in the mayoral election against the party's official candidate in 2000.

His return prompted Mr Blair to concede that despite his earlier fears, Mr Livingstone had done "a pretty good job" running the capital.

I have never heard a prime minister have the guts to get up and say 'I was wrong'
Ken Livingstone

"My prediction that he would be a disaster has turned out to be wrong and I think when that happens in politics you should just be open about it," he said.

Those comments prompted Mr Livingstone to heap praise on the prime minister.

"I have been following British politics for 40 years. I have never heard a prime minister have the guts to get up and say 'I was wrong'," he told BBC Radio 4's the World At One.

"I think actually the prime minister's standing has been improved by this."

He said his office had been negotiating with the prime minister people for his return "for some time".

"But I couldn't know how he was actually going to handle it ...

"By simply saying 'I was wrong' we lance the boil - we can move on," he said.

Credit due

The London mayor said he believed his return to the party fold would help him win more government cash for the capital.

He also insisted he would not clash with the Treasury over his spending plans.

Quizzed about his relationship with Mr Brown, Mr Livingstone said: "I did not agree with the decision of the Labour Government to stick with the Tory spending controls in its first two years - I said that very strongly and forcefully.

"I have to also say though, that if you look at the way the chancellor has conducted the finances of this country over the last three or four years, which has meant that, whereas in much of the rest of the world the economy has gone through very painful and severe recessions, here we avoided recession.

"And I give him credit where it is due."

Mr Livingstone said ministers were aware that "after years of neglect" some "big money" would have to be spent in London.




SEE ALSO:
Livingstone to remain outspoken
07 Jan 04  |  Politics
Profile: Ken Livingstone
09 May 03  |  Politics
Why Tony is ready to forgive Ken
16 Dec 03  |  Politics
Kinnock blasts Livingstone return
15 Dec 03  |  Politics
London Labour backs Livingstone
12 Dec 03  |  London


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