Sunday 10 November 2019

Meeting Ken

Last night I was invited to join Ken Livingstone for dinner at an Afghan restaurant in Kilburn. I had met him last some years ago in a supermarket queue.

During the course of our meal, I wanted to use the opportunity to express my solidarity with him about the shocking way he had been treated. I said I felt we had a lot in common, in my case because I was thrown out of the charity I helped to found because I had been a whistleblower about corruption. In late middle age I was left without a job and little money. One day I had been a charity director running a music centre and the next unemployed and unemployable. I was dazed at how quickly fate can change our lives.

Ken’s fate has been much worse. As Mayor of London, he has been responsible for much that remains positive about London life. Standing out in my memory was his anti-racism and the promotion of good community relations.

It was heartwarming to see a waitress come to our table to shake Ken’s hand and thank him for all he did for the city. And he left the job eleven years ago.

Today he remains ‘outed’ from the Labour Party because he stands falsely accused of anti-semitism. In a recent interview in The Guardian he said, “In more than 50 years in the party, I never saw or heard anything anti semitic … If you’re antisemitic, you’re not going to join the Labour party, are you? … the most prominent Jewish MPs are Labour MPs.”

I returned home on the London Overground. Oh yes, that was modernised and revamped under Ken’s leadership. How I wish there was someone with his vision and humanity in power now.

Interview with Ken Livingstone here


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