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London Elections: Ken Livingstone announces the end of political career

Dominic Gover, Reporter
Saturday, May 5, 2012
12:55 AM

Ken Livingstone brought down the curtain on his life in politics in London, tonight.

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Labour’s two-time former Mayor was beaten by Conservative Boris Johnson for the second time.

Speaking at City Hall, Mr Livingstone said: “This is my last election.

“Forty one years ago almost to the day I won my first election on a manifesto build good council housing and introduce free bus passes to pensioners.

“Since then I have won 11 more elections and lost three but the one I most regret losing is this.”

Livingstone said London faced grave problems ahead in the coming years.

“These are the worst times for 80 years and London has needed a mayor to help them get through fare cuts and energy price rises.

“I am sincerely sorry for those Londoners who wanted us to win that I failed to do this and they will continue to bear the pain of this recession without help from City Hall.”

The election had sunk into a personality contest between Mr Johnson and himself, obscuring the real matters at stake - Mr Livingstone claimed.

“I think democracy is undermined when papers are filled with trivia and not real issues and I wonder whether the negativity and smears played part in Birmingham and Manchester’s rejection of a mayor for their cities.”

He insisted his party had the right answers to solve stubborn problems like the economy.

“Labour will win the debate on how to build an economy that works.

“Today’s teenagers are the first generation of English men and women who face worse prospects than their parents.

“This is because of the aggressive free market policies that the Tories introduced 30 years ago.

“London is the most amazing city but our children must find jobs and homes in it.

“The gains Labour has made today are along the way to achieving that.”

A mischievous stab at the Conservative leader David Cameron was made - who watched his party handed a pounding by voters in elections around the country.

“I want to congratulate Boris on his success. Not only have you become Mayor again but this has stopped the quest for the next Tory leader,” he said.

“I don’t know if the Prime Minister is still watching, but I hope the closeness didn’t give him indigestion over dinner - because the real story is we have won all over the country.”

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