Ken Livingstone was born in Lambeth in 1945 and was educated at Tulse Hill Comprehensive School. Ken has twice held the chief executive office in London local government. Firstly, as leader of the Greater London Council from 1981 until the council was abolished in 1986 by the government of Margaret Thatcher. Secondly, as the first Mayor of London, a post he held from its creation in 2000 until 2008. He also served as Labour Party Member of Parliament for Brent East between 1987 and 2001.
He was initially elected as Mayor of London as an Independent candidate after the Labour Party chose not to nominate him as their candidate in the first mayoral elections. In January 2004, he was re-admitted to the Labour Party. He stood as the official Labour Party candidate for Mayor in the June 2004 elections, which he won with a total of 828,380 first and second-preference votes. On May 1, 2008 Ken was defeated in his second re-election bid by Conservative candidate Boris Johnson, and his term as Mayor of London ended on 4 May 2008.
One of Ken’s greatest challenges as Mayor of London was dealing with the city's ageing transportation infrastructure. Ken introduced many schemes including bendy buses, oyster cards and the congestion charge.
Ken also made a significant effort to reduce London’s impact on the environment.
Ken also set up Britain's first register for same-sex couples; while falling short of legal marriage rights, the register was seen as a "step towards" such rights. Legal status was later passed by the government through the Civil Partnership Act 2004.
In the aftermath of the 2005 London bombings, Ken initiated a campaign to celebrate London's multiculturalism. In 2001 Ken revived the free anti-racism music festival which he believes, along with other anti-racist policies, is why London saw a 35% decrease in racist attacks.
All this led to Ken being named 'Politician of the Year' by the Political Studies Association.
Ken has recently been given a slot on LBC as a radio presenter and is now available for corporate speaking.