Ken Livingstone – 2011 Speech to Labour Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by Ken Livingstone, the then Labour candidate for London Mayor, to Labour Party conference on 25th September 2011.

If you’re from outside London you may wonder why this election matters.

But with the size of London’s economy, the whole country benefits if London is run on Labour values of fairness.

You may think, why does he want to stand in what the Tories clearly intend to be a brutal fight?

Losing last time was tough.

But these 3 years have given me a chance to listen and to see things in the way ordinary Londoners see them.

London is a great city – but it is going in the wrong direction.

Only a few years ago London was leading the world.

Yet now the image of London is a city of civil disorder and violence on our streets.

But unless we change City Hall nothing will change on our streets.

Boris Johnson campaigned for the Tories to be in power and he got what he wished for.

Unemployment is above the national average.

Cuts to council funding are above the average for the rest of England.

Rail, tube and bus fares are soaring.

So I’m campaigning to put ordinary Londoners first.

I see the impact on young people of Tory policies when I visit colleges and schools in London.

The Tories say we must cut our national debt but they pile debt on our students.

With London’s high cost of living, repaying those debts will be felt sharply by young Londoners.

The next generation needs a champion in City Hall but Boris Johnson did not speak up.

He didn’t lobby MPs against abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance.

He praised plans for a private university with £18,000-a-year fees as “unambiguously good news.”

Boris Johnson is the problem, not the solution.

Tory Wandsworth wants to charge kids to play in their local playground.

Boris Johnson thinks this is such a good idea he made the leader of Wandsworth his new chief of staff.

That’s why I’m standing – to remove a Mayor who attacks the youngest in our society, smashing their aspirations with debts and cuts.

Our campaign is about fairness – putting ordinary people first and defending their public services.

I will stand up for ordinary workers who are on the sharp end of this Tory government, from teachers and nurses to pensioners.

Boris Johnson stands for a privileged minority.

He says anger over bankers’ bonuses is “whingeing”.

He campaigns to cut the top rate of tax.

He is the leading Tory in the country demanding a cut in the top rate of tax for the one per cent earning more than £150,000 a year.

Not surprising really.

Instead of sticking to the day job Boris Johnson has a second job on the Daily Telegraph, earning £250,000.

He calls that salary “chicken feed”.

And while fares are rising steeply the number of people on six-figure salaries at City Hall has nearly doubled.

28 members of staff earn over £100,000, up from sixteen just three years ago.

When the Guardian revealed the phone-hacking scandal Johnson dismissed the story as Labour Party codswallop.

Even after the revelations that Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked he still defended News International and praised Rupert Murdoch’s role.

I’m proud that while Boris Johnson was defending Murdoch our Tom Watson fought to make sure Andy Coulson was forced out of Downing Street.

This is about putting Londoners first. We need to cut crime not the police.

Three police commissioners in three years has been a disaster for morale in the Met.

As the Tories slash the police budget, crime will rise.

But Boris Johnson started cutting police even before Cameron was in office.

And after this election is over he plans to cut another 1,800 police officers.

I don’t want my kids growing up in a city where police are down and crime is up.

I don’t want the police overstretched when there are riots on our streets.

We’re already taking this fight to Boris Johnson.

We won the council by-election in Boris Johnson’s own ward in Islington. Where local people voted against Boris Johnson’s policy of cutting police sergeants from their local neighbourhood teams.

Our candidate in that by-election victory was Alice Perry, one of our hardest working volunteers. Alice, thanks for beating Boris in his back yard.

When I heard about the bombings in July 2005 I was in Singapore for the Olympic vote.

I just wanted to get back to London.

But where was Boris Johnson when the riots happened?

He refused to come back to London.

We had the crazy situation of Londoners having to demand their own mayor come back.

And what personal example does Boris Johnson set?

What is the difference between the rioters, and a gang of over-privileged arrogant students vandalising restaurants and throwing chairs through windows in Oxford?

Come on Boris – what’s the moral difference between your Bullingdon vandalism as a student and the criminality of the rioters?

Neither is an example I want for my kids.

And then there are fares – which this January will rise by seven per cent.

Johnson has done a deal with this government to increase fares by 2% above inflation every year for 20 years.

A bus fare is up 56 per cent under Boris Johnson.

A weekly zone 1-4 Travelcard costs £416 a year more.

This just isn’t fair. People are right to be angry.

And it’s our duty to speak for them.

So this is what I intend.

I will put ordinary Londoners first by protecting policing.

Any cut to front-line police by Boris will be reversed.

I will put ordinary Londoners first by backing Ed Balls’ plan for a cut in VAT not Boris Johnson’s tax cuts for the richest.

Unlike Boris Johnson I am in it for London, not for myself.

So I will freeze my salary and the salary of my senior staff for four years.

And I will take only one salary – no moonlighting.

I will press the case for students struggling to make ends meet.

And our campaign will fight to defend our NHS.

I want you to join our campaign for a fairer alternative.

Over the last few months we have led the way with our online volunteer website yourken.org

Tomorrow will see another step in that campaign.

I will announce my plan for fairer fares and I’m going to do it by text.

Our campaign will be the first to announce a key policy by text. So switch your phones on now.

Behind me you will see our campaign text number.

Text KEN to this number, 66007 and tomorrow you’ll be the first to hear how I will hold down fares.

In every year in every part of London, inner and outer, fares will be fairer under me than they would be under a second Boris Johnson term.

Let Boris Johnson defend his policy of high fares for Londoners and low tax for bankers.

Everywhere he goes, my running mate Val Shawcross and our team of Assembly candidates will send our message to Londoners – Boris is making you less well-off and less safe, with higher fares and less police.

Over this last year I have worked with Ed Miliband.

I’ve watched him stand up to Rupert Murdoch and he won.

Now he’s taking on the appalling unfairness of this government’s policies.

If you want to see a fairer Britain, that means a Labour government under Ed Miliband.

Since we elected Ed as our leader tens of thousands of people have joined us, enthused and wanting to see real change.

A lot of us wonder if we can ever match the great achievements of our past like the NHS.

But when I look at the problems we face

Rebuilding our economy on fairer lines

Being a bridge between Europe and America and the rising new economies in Asia and Latin America

And tackling climate change, the greatest threat to our survival humanity has ever faced

I know our greatest achievements lie ahead.

And in Ed we have a leader, whose combination of principles and vision, mean we can make these changes.