Millions of words have been written about Boris Johnson’s illegal lockdown parties in 10 Downing Street. A nation has expressed its outrage, which will not be assuaged until Johnson resigns as prime minister.
The stories about the May 2020 party, to which over 100 people were invited to bring booze and enjoy the lovely weather, have brought back vivid memories of that extraordinary lockdown spring.
Like almost everyone in Britain, but unlike Johnson and his team, we obeyed the rules. We knew how important this was to keep safe, minimise the spread of the virus and protect the NHS. On my daily exercise, I kept local and was more careful than normal when cycling down steep hills – the last thing I wanted was to put pressure on A&A by crashing.
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Ticket to ride: London’s new Routemaster
I thought I’d missed my bus in London today. But I was in luck. It was a new Routemaster, the new version of the classic London bus. So I was able to jump onboard while it was halted in traffic.
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Ken Livingstone will never again be mayor of London. His second defeat by Boris Johnson has ended one of the most colourful careers in British politics.
It’s hard to believe that the sad figure who left the stage today once electrified the political scene. As leader of the Greater London Council, Ken defied Margaret Thatcher at her most powerful. Thatcher was so unnerved by Ken’s bravado that she abolished the GLC, an act of spite that left London as the world’s only leading city without its own government body. In 2000, he defied another powerful prime minister, Tony Blair, to become the city’s first elected mayor. (Blair’s mistake was a classic example of how New Labour’s controlling tendency often backfired spectacularly.)
As mayor, Livingstone achieved a lot, notably the bold congestion charge scheme, helping win the 2012 Olympics and his dignified response to the 7/7 bombings. But his maverick nature became a weakness not a strength. Ken likened a Jewish reporter to a concentration camp guard – and compounded the offence by repeatedly refusing to apologise. It was the first of a number of insensitive remarks about the Jewish community.
The greatest indictment of Livingstone is that he lost to a Tory on a day when the Tories were routed in other elections across the country. True, he was fighting the Tory media as well as Boris Johnson, but that didn’t matter elsewhere. And in his prime he appealed to voters of all political shades. In 2012, even Labour voters found Ken unappealing. Tony Blair was wrong in 1999 to try to block Ken ahead of the first mayoral election. But in 2012 Labour made the costly mistake of giving Ken one last chance.