Page last updated at 11:50 GMT, Sunday, 29 June 2008 12:50 UK

Livingstone 'doesn't blame Brown'

Ken Livingstone on his new job and the future of London

Ken Livingstone has said he does not blame Gordon Brown for his failure to win a third term as London mayor.

He told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show Labour's poll ratings had made it difficult to win but his "personal vote" should have been higher too.

And he refused to add his voice to calls for Mr Brown to go, advising the prime minister to "hang on in there".

He also spoke of his fascination with watching his Conservative successor Boris Johnson work.

In his first broadcast interview since leaving office, Mr Livingstone said losing the mayoralty had been like a "bereavement" but he was over it now.

Asked by Andrew Marr if he was "stalking" his successor, Mr Livingstone said: "I find it fascinating watching Boris do the job I was doing, working out how I'd do it differently, looking at what I think are the mistakes which will bring him down in four years.

"I find it fascinating, you can go and sit and watch two and half hours of Boris and it's free. You pay about ten quid to get into a cinema."

Labour 'problems'

Mr Livingstone was spotted in the public gallery when Mr Johnson faced London Assembly members at his first mayor's question time.

He told Andrew Marr he wanted Mr Johnson to do a "good job" in continuing to develop London.

A change of leader I do not think would change the outcome of the election
Ken Livingstone

"I don't want to get back in four years and get a catastrophe I have to clear up," he said.

Asked if he would be making another bid for the mayoralty, he said: "I won't make a decision until 2010, once the general election is over. If there was an election now I would run again."

The ex-London mayor said he would not bet on Labour winning the next general election but said he did not think changing Labour's leader would "change the outcome".

Mr Livingstone - who has fallen out with Mr Brown in the past - said he needed to shift to the left and tax the rich more to have any hope of winning.

But he predicted the prime minister would steer the country through global financial turbulence without the economy slipping into recession - boosting its chances at the polls.

"Clearly it's not a very happy prospect for the Labour Party," he told Andrew Marr.

"A change of leader I do not think would change the outcome of the election. There is a lot of problems built up as they do with any party in power over a long period.

"I would not advocate changing the leader. We have got to hang on in there and deliver.

"In a year's time, people will have got over this. We will have had what will then be 13 years without a recession.

It won't necessarily deliver a victory but I would not be willing to bet my own money on the outcome of the next election."

'Personal vote'

The party had to address a feeling that "working class people have not done as well under this government as middle class people."

"Far too much of it has been about shifting a bit of wealth between these two groups rather than, the big mistake of Blair and Brown, not being prepared to increase tax on the richest. That's the weakness.

"Otherwise you are shifting a bit from the working class to the middle class or back and both of those need to be on board for a Labour fourth term."

He said he did not blame the party for his defeat.

"I don't blame Labour. I built up a personal vote of about a quarter of a million. If I could have built that up to a third of a million I would still be there. I should have done that.

"You have got to allow for the fact that parties are unpopular sometimes."

Mr Brown was not a "showman" like predecessor Tony Blair "who will charm you and seduce you into voting for them", he said.

"But there will be a record of delivery."


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