DCSIMG

Riding with ‘Red Ken’

Ken Livingstone at the Harrogate Business Luncheon, pictured with, from left, are Graham Scott, Duncan Williams and Howard Matthews.    (130201M2f)

Ken Livingstone at the Harrogate Business Luncheon, pictured with, from left, are Graham Scott, Duncan Williams and Howard Matthews. (130201M2f)

  • by Graham Chalmers
 

Mrs Livingstone drives a Toyota Prius. Ken, on the other hand, doesn’t drive at all.

At least that’s what the man dubbed ‘Red Ken’ by The Sun tells me as I offer to be his ‘chauffeur’ following a headlining appearance at Harrogate Business Luncheon.

I lead the former mayor of London to my modest Fiat Punto just in time to see Harrogate’s mayor being whisked away in an uber-lengthy black motor.

There’s no tantrums or tiaras from Ken. He’s simply happy to get a lift from Pavilions of Harrogate to Leeds railway station where he’s due to catch the train home after speaking to an audience of around 300 besuited local business people who’d paid £35 each for the privilege.

Interviewing the most significant left-wing political figure of the last 30 years between changing gears and switching lanes, isn’t the easiest job of manouevring.

What follows is a snippet of our conversation.

For the much fuller interview, get this weeks’ Harrogate Advertiser on sale on Thursday.

Ken Livingstone on Tony Blair:

“Blair had no background in politics. He was never involved in politics at Oxford, which is odd. And no one knows exactly when he joined the Labour Party.

But there’s a theory that he only joined when he was in his chambers as a lawyer and met Cherie. If he wanted Cherie, he had to get involved in politics. I don’t know if that’s true.”

“Thatcher’s thing was that her greatest legacy was New Labour.Even so, the Tory press were worried about Blair because they thought Blair’s going to be there forever.

“People in the bottom half of society were starting to feel real pain by the middle of Blair’s second term. If I hadn’t give up my seat in Parliament to be Mayor of London I would have run against Gordon Brown in 2007.”

 

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