I went to see Ken Livingstone today.
Ken Livingstone is an interesting man. He is variously described as outspoken, "bold and imaginative", a disgrace, and Trotskyist. Whatever you think of him, I believe that more politicians like him could be a good thing.
I don't mean more left-leaning, or more environmentalist, or more liberal (well, actually, I do think these are good things, but that's really not what I'm getting at) - what I mean is forthright, open and frank. I like Vince Cable. I also have massively more respect for people on the right, like maybe Boris Johnson, and hell, even John Bolton, who state their (frequently wrong...) views openly and, yes, divisively, than those who studiously avoid the controversial in what they have to say, even when it is massively important to the electorate.
But it is equally heavily directed to the Blairite school (although I certainly feel Cameron and Osborne - and Clegg, come to that) and the whole culture of 'professional' politicians (I use the word in the same way one describes 'professional fouls' in football) who exist, publically, as sort of ethereal ghosts in the machine, who do not represent with any confidence any values or schools of thought, but rather just give glimpses into an unknowable Whitehall existence.
Perhaps the world would be a better place if politicians (in fact, this is largely directed at higher-ranking ministers and their shadow counterparts) could step away from not just party line, but from the strange brand of modern political pseudo-realism which permeates all attempts at political debate. It is endlessly refreshing to hear people talking coherently about their own personal views, and putting forward reasoned, historical or just plain true arguments about important stuff.
Just my two cents.
Ken Livingstone was speaking at the Cambridge Union on Wednesday 17th February 2010. He was mayor of London from 2000 to 2008, winning his first election as an independent candidate, and returning as a Labout party candidate in 2004. His achievements include introducing the first same-sex civil partnership register, before the government followed suit 3 years later, overhauling the public transport system, and introducing the congestion charge and other environmental measures. He was succeeded by Boris Johnson, but plans to run again for the role next term. Previously, he had served from 1981 as Leader of the greater London Council until the post was abolished by Margaret Thatcher in 1986. He is currently an adviser on urban planning in Venezuela, where we works with Hugo Chávez who he says is "just like me".