Exclusive Ken Livingstone extracts

Written by Total Politics has a free weekly Friday email bulletin. Follow this link to register. on 18 August 2011 in Diary
Going on the campaign trail with Labour's candidate for Mayor of London, with under a year until the next election

You'll have to buy the next issue of Total Politics to read my full interview with Ken Livingstone, but here are few choice quotes to whet your appetite:

Asked why people should vote for him, Ken jokes: "It's a simple choice between good and evil – I don't think it's been so clear since the great struggle between Churchill and Hitler... The people that don't vote for me will be weighed in the balance, come Judgement Day. The Archangel Gabriel will say, ' You didn't vote for Ken Livingstone in 2012. Oh dear, burn forever. Your skin flayed for all eternity.'... I'll come round with a serious pitch nearer the time."

He gives his take on the News International relationship with politicians: "Boris was the News International candidate last time, and he will be this time. That is why he was still defending News International after the Milly Dowler revelations... When Boris and George Osborne are locked in a death throe to succeed Cameron, the Mail will vote for Osborne. The Telegraph will vote for Boris because the Barclay brothers have been grooming him for years, and they want access to a prime minister. So the big media focus is the group in contention – News International. Osborne has been very close to them and Boris needs at least to have them neutral."

He doubts Boris Johnson's motivation as mayor: "I'm coming in with all these ideas, whereas Boris came in and thought, 'Oh, shit, I didn't expect to win this. What am I going to do next?' I think he was horrified [to win]."

Ken reveals his closeness to Labour leader Ed Miliband: "It's the first time since John Smith died that there's a Labour leader who actually likes me, rather than having to work with me.... During all the years I had dealings with Blair and Brown, they'd never say 'no' to your face. It'd be a briefing to the press if they didn't like what you were doing."

He also discusses his relationship with Brown and Blair: 'Although Blair wanted me back, everyone around him thought I was going to screw him – it was an incredibly nervy relationship... Brown was manoeuvred into a position where we were seen together, and he looked reasonably comfortable with that. I think they had him on something for those occasions.' He's joking – I think."

And he stresses that he's physically ready for the mayoral fight: "I've got a low cholesterol level. My doctor says I've got the same heart profile as an Olympic runner. I can't run like a champion athlete, but I can cope with a lot of stress... [My teeth] are shit. That's the weakness."

Tags: Issue 39, Ken Livingstone

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