Ken Livingston, County Hall, London 1981.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012 shapeimage_2I was commissioned to photograph Ken Livingston by the French left-wing daily Liberation. He’d completed his first 100 days as the leader of the GLC and it was before most people in the UK had really become aware of him. It was at the time when the popular press dubbed him ‘Red Ken’ and the likes of the Daily Mail did everything but accuse him of eating live babies. 

The writer, Patrice Ballon, and I found him to be warm and utterly charming. Halfway through the interview, his elderly mother wandered in carrying a large bag of shopping. They shared a joke or two and then she went off to find a cup of tea.  I don’t exactly know why but the kind way that he treated his mother, in front of us, endeared me to him all the more. I photographed him again, 20 years later, as MP for Brent East, and he was just the same. Warm, faultlessly polite and with time for everyone.

When he became Mayor of London, he wasn’t always perfect, not by a long chalk.  But, in my view, he was streets ahead of the current incumbent.  I’ll be interested to see if he gets back in at the election on the 3rd of May.  He’ll certainly be getting my vote.