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
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.