Looking through Ken Livingstone’s campaign promises at his launch yesterday (a gas-guzzler charge, closer diplomatic relations between London and China, etc) I realised, with a sense of wonder, that if selected as Labour’s candidate he really is going to re-fight the 2008 election on the 2008 manifesto.
But among all the much-loved (if not quite loved enough to secure him re-election) old policies, there is something new. Ken now lashes the rich and promises to be “not a mayor defending bankers.”
There was, of course, once a London mayor who fervently defended the worst of banking greed and excess. In 2008, just six months before the crash, that mayor furiously attacked his own chancellor, Alistair Darling, for trying to make non-doms in the City pay even a token amount of tax, saying he was “deeply opposed” to the idea.
In 2006, that mayor wrote that “the light regulation [of the financial services industry] … is the cornerstone of London’s success,” and demanded it be “defended against any challenges.” That mayor insisted (rather poignantly in view of what happened next) that “professional institutional markets, such as New York and London, have the most sophisticated financial workforces in the world. These should be allowed to assess risk.”
That mayor was called Ken Livingstone, too. I wonder what happened to him?