Kenneth Robert Livingstone Quote
Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.
I like how writing can take you off for a jaunt in your head and then set you back down in the chair where you've been all along.
I want it said of me by those who knew me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.
I plant a lot of trees. I am a great believer in planting things for future generations. I loathe the now culture where you just live for today.
Born in Lambeth, South London, to a working-class family, Livingstone joined Labour in 1968 and was elected to represent Norwood at the GLC in 1973, Hackney North and Stoke Newington in 1977, and Paddington in 1981. That year, Labour representatives on the GLC elected him as the council's leader. Attempting to reduce London Underground fares, his plans were challenged in court and declared unlawful; more successful were his schemes to benefit women and several minority groups, despite stiff opposition. The mainstream press gave him the moniker "Red Ken" in reference to his socialist beliefs and criticised him for supporting republicanism, LGBT rights, and a United Ireland. Livingstone was a vocal opponent of the Conservative Party government of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, which in 1986 abolished the GLC. Elected as MP for Brent East in 1987, he became closely associated with anti-racist campaigns. He attempted to stand for the position of Labour Party leader following Neil Kinnock's resignation in 1992, but failed to get enough nominations. Livingstone became a vocal critic of Tony Blair's New Labour project that pushed the party closer to the political centre and won the 1997 general election.
After failing to become Labour's candidate in the 2000 London mayoral election, Livingstone successfully contested the election as an independent candidate. In his first term as Mayor of London, he introduced the congestion charge, Oyster card, and articulated buses, and unsuccessfully opposed the privatisation of London Underground. Despite his opposition to Blair's government on issues like the Iraq War, Livingstone was invited to stand for re-election as Labour's candidate. Re-elected in 2004, he expanded his transport policies, introduced new environmental regulations, and enacted civil rights reforms. Overseeing London's winning bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympics and ushering in a major redevelopment of the city's East End, his leadership after the 7 July 2005 London bombings was widely praised. After losing both the 2008 and 2012 London mayoral elections to the Conservative candidate Boris Johnson, Livingstone became a key ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in 2015. A longstanding critic of Israeli policy regarding Palestinians, his comments about the relationship between Adolf Hitler and Zionism resulted in his 2016 suspension from Labour, after which he resigned from the party in 2018.
Characterised by Charles Moore as "the only truly successful left-wing British politician of modern times", Livingstone was a controversial and polarising figure. Supporters praised his efforts to improve rights for women, LGBT people, and ethnic minorities in London, but critics emphasised allegations of cronyism and antisemitism, and criticised him for his connections to Islamists, Marxists, and Irish republicans.