Peter Hoskin

Ken’s personal fiefdom

Ken's personal fiefdom
Text settings

If you missed the Today programme's interview with Ken Livingstone, make sure you tune in when it's available on Listen Again – some quite startling revelations were made.

When asked whether he headed a “personal fiefdom”, Livingstone seemingly assented and went on to say that (and – for now – I'm quoting as closely as typing-whilst-listening will permit): “That's exactly what Tony Blair set out to do ....  I was originally opposed to it at first”.  Since taking up the role, however, his views have changed.  Now – as he expressed in the interview – he believes the Mayoral set-up has distinct advantages over those operating through “networks” of Sir Humphries and civil servants.

What's more, Livingstone thinks that – against all signs – there's true accountability built into the position, but that this only takes effect during election time:  “I am accountable to Londoners; they watch me the whole time and if they don't like what they see they'll get a new mayor”.  Well, yes, he's strictly correct.  But – when the Mayor's term of office is around 4 years – this is accountability with a long, long time lag.  Which is surely similar to no accountability at all.

All of which backs-up the main conclusion of Martin Bright's investigation into Livingstone: that the next London Mayor – whoever it is – needs to rapidly reform the role of Mayor itself.  There's no place for a fiefdom in 21st Century London.