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Ken Livingstone was born in South London. When he left school he wanted to spend the rest of his life working at London Zoo and never expected or wanted to be a politician. But with no vacancies at the zoo, he ended up instead in the political jungle working with bizarre beasts, many of whom are now fortunately extinct.
At his first-ever council meeting he introduced a pensioners’ travel pass. Later he built council homes, cut fares, met the IRA, championed equalities and lost his job when the GLC was abolished. This might have been enough for one political life, until he decided to do it all over again as Mayor of London, putting two fingers up to Tony Blair in the process. He still lives in London.
Author photo © Jonathan Root
Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 24 November 2011. Written in Livingstone's unmistakable voice, by turns angrily sincere about social justice, wickedly droll and gossipy, and surprisingly wistful about people he has known and loved, this is a hugely important and remarkable book from one of the very few respected politicians at work today.
In Being Red, Ken Livingstone serves up an account of the Labour Party and its future, at a pivotal moment in its history. Having worked most of his life within the party in various leading roles; as the head of the Greater London Council, as Member of Parliament and as Mayor of London, Livingstone is able to offer insights into the internal workings of the party, and the rise and fall (and potential rise again) of its radical socialist ethos. Discussing his battle with Boris Johnson, the fight against privatisation and pollution as well as his analysis of Jeremy Corbyn's arguably radical leadership and its implications for the future, Livingstone displays his trademark honesty and humour, refusing to shy away from controversy or debate. Published in partnership with the Left Book Club.
A frank, gripping, moving - and controversial - autobiography from one of the most idiosyncratic and effective politicians of the last fifty years. His political convictions, his distance from New Labour, and his direct, plain-speaking style and personality have allowed him to survive longer than any of his contemporaries as a man of principle and influence. From his eccentric South London working class childhood to running one of the biggest cities in the world, Livingstone is one of the very few politicians to have scored a major victory over the Thatcher Government and has championed issues as diverse as the environment, gay rights and anti-racism. Written in Livingstone's unmistakable voice, by turns angrily sincere about social injustice, wickedly droll and gossipy, and surprisingly wistful about people he has known and loved, this is a hugely important and remarkable book from one of the very few respected politicians at work today.