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Wednesday, 17 November, 1999, 08:45 GMT
CV: Ken 'Red Ken' Livingstone

Ken Livingstone of old: The moustache has gone

Name Kenneth Robert Livingstone.

Born 17 June 1945, Streatham, south London.

Education Tulse Hill Comprehensive; teacher training at Phillipa Fawcett College of Education.

Life before politics Cancer research laboratory technician at the Royal Marsden Hospital.

Political career:
    May 1971 Elected a Lambeth borough councillor, becoming vice-chairman of housing until 1973. He stays on Lambeth (where among his fellow councillors is one John Major) until 1978, when he opts to fight - and wins - a seat on Camden council. On Camden council until 1982, he becomes chair of housing.

    May 1973 Elected GLC councillor.

    May 1979 At the general election Livingstone unsuccessfully contests the Conservative seat of Hampstead.

    May 1981 The day after Labour wins a small majority on the GLC, group leader Andrew McIntosh is ousted and Livingstone voted into his place instead. He holds the leadership up to the GLC's abolition by the Conservatives in 1986.

    December 1981 The GLC's popular "Fares Fair" policy, which significantly cut the price of travel on London Transport, is ruled illegal by the Law Lords.

    March 1984 Margaret Thatcher's government publishes its plans to abolish the next GLC elections, due the following year, as a first step towards abolishing the body altogether. Two years later, the GLC officially ceases to exist.

    June 1987 Elected MP for Brent East.

    September 1987 Elected by party members to Labour's National Executive Committee. Two years later, Livingstone loses his seat.

    September 1997 Returns triumphant to the NEC, beating Peter Mandelson. Livingstone keeps the seat for a year.

    November 1999 Formally applies to be Labour's candidate for mayor of London.

    February 2000 Loses out to Frank Dobson as Labour candidate for mayor.

    March 2000 Announces he will stand as independent London mayoral candidate.
Political positioning "Red Ken" is unmistakably on Labour's left, though not predictably so. He has long been pro-proportional representation for Westminster, is in favour of signing up to the European single currency, and was arguing for one-member-one-vote within the party long before many of its modernisers.

He has also been able to point to how some of the policies he advocated during the 1980s and which earned him the vituperation of the tabloid press (including the famous Sun newspaper declaration that he was "the most odious man in Britain") have since become acceptable government policy.

For example, talking to Sinn Fein and the IRA, recognition of gay rights and organisational measures to address women's and ethnic minorities' inequality were all proposed or carried out by Livingstone during his GLC days..

Livingstone can also be seen, through GLC campaigns against abolition and in favour of its "Fares Fair" policy, to have pioneered the use of modern advertising techniques in political communication some time before the wider Labour Party discovered their effective use.

Unaccountably in Labour loyalists' eyes, Livingstone is one of those left-wingers most closely identified with the party's 1980s "loony left" image, takes little apparent care with his public utterances, remains unrepentantly left-wing, has attacked the policies of highly popular Tony Blair - yet the Brent East MP is still hugely popular with the public.

He is less liked within the Parliamentary Labour Party, however, where he is seen as a loner and blamed by some for having drawn the "loony left" label onto the party during its unelectable wilderness years.
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