Red Ken on killer capitalists

Carl Remick carlremick at
Tue Apr 11 09:54:06 PDT 2000

[From today's Telegraph (I also included the Telegraph article from Jan. 18th that is hotlinked here). I've tried to imagine any electable US politician making remarks as candid as Red Ken's, but I don't have that good an imagination.]

Livingstone aims Hitler attack at capitalists

By Robert Shrimsley, Chief Political Correspondent

Ken Livingstone's efforts to project a business-friendly image were undermined yesterday when he said that international capitalists had killed more people than Hitler.

His latest attack on the forces of capitalism follows controversy surrounding earlier remarks [see below] where he expressed sympathy with the rioters who brought chaos to the World Trade Organisation negotiations in Seattle and the simultaneous anti-capitalist protests in the City. The front-runner to be mayor of London made his comments in a question and answer session with readers of New Musical Express.

Asked whether he still believed the bosses of the International Monetary Fund should "die painfully in their beds", Mr Livingstone replied: "The IMF and the World Bank are still appalling and now the World Trade Organisation, too. All over the world people die unnecessarily because of the international financial system."

Tuesday 18 January 2000

Livingstone backs City riots as his moderate mask slips

By Robert Shrimsley, Chief Political Correspondent

Ken Livingstone last night gave the lie to claims that he has shed his hard-Left image by siding with the anarchist rioters who brought chaos to the City of London last year.

After months of trying to foster a moderate image in his fight to be Labour's candidate for Mayor of London, Mr Livingstone made an extraordinary gaffe which harked back to his old "Red Ken" image in an interview with a style magazine. He said that he backed "direct action" as seen in the anti-capitalist riots in London and the protests during the World Trade Organisation conference in Seattle.

Mr Livingstone added that he would not invite the WTO to London "unless we can get vast stocks to put them in so that we can throw stuff at them in an organised way".

The former GLC leader, who has increasingly looked to be the Labour front-runner for mayor, made his comments in an interview with The Face. Asked how he would respond to a "June 18 or Battle of Seattle type demo", he said: "I have always been in favour of direct action. One of my fondest memories was chasing the inspector of the Archway Road inquiry out on to the roof at the Central Hall."

During six hours of rioting in the City, shops, offices and monuments were damaged by about 4,000 protesters who hijacked what was billed as a peaceful "carnival against capitalism". Four police officers were among the 46 people injured.

Elsewhere in the interview, Mr Livingstone described Lady Thatcher as "the scariest person I've ever met, adding: "I've met serial killers and professional assassins and nobody scared me as much as Mrs T."

Mr Livingstone's comments were immediately denounced by Frank Dobson, his rival for the Labour nomination, who said it showed that his moderate mask was slipping. He said: "These comments are quite disgraceful from anyone seeking to be Mayor of London with responsibility for the police. This interview shows why Ken Livingstone would be the wrong person to be mayor."

Mr Livingstone's remarks will also be seized upon by Tony Blair, who has said that he can work with the former GLC leader only if he has changed. A source close to the Prime Minister said last night that the comments "look like the kind of gesture politics that Tony Blair has set his face against".

Mr Livngstone was also criticised by Steve Norris, the former transport minister, who was selected yesterday as the Tory candidate for mayor, to replace Lord Archer, following a ballot of party members in London.

Mr Norris said: "Faced with a choice between violence and disorder and the interests of Londoners he has once again made the wrong choice."



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