Ken Livingstone was in fine form on the first afternoon of the Labour Party Conference: name-checking Ed Balls (“I will put ordinary Londoners first by backing Ed Balls’ plan for a cut in VAT not Boris Johnson’s tax cuts for the richest.”) before perorating with a loyalist paeon to the wisdom of Ed Miliband; some clear pledges on policing (“Any cut to front-line police by Boris will be reversed.”); and a series of passages emphasising the difference in his approach to Mayor Boris Johnson.
He promised to “put ordinary Londoners first” in his campaign for the Mayoral election in May 2012, pointing out that Mayor Boris Johnson has met representatives of the bankers more times than he has met the police since he became Mayor.
And in a reference to the present Mayor’s aspiration to lead the Conservative Party and his part-time writing for the Daily Telegraph (netting him some £250,000 per year), Ken Livingstone spelt it out: “Unlike Boris Johnson I am in it for London, not for myself. So I will freeze my salary and the salary of my senior staff for four years. And I will take only one salary – no moonlighting.”
And in a powerful dig:
“What is the difference between the rioters, and a gang of over-privileged arrogant students vandalising restaurants and throwing chairs through windows in Oxford?
“Come on Boris – what’s the moral difference between your Bullingdon vandalism as a student and the criminality of the rioters?”
The first standing ovation of the Conference followed.