George Stern

Still Aboard the Sinking Ship

If Voting Changed Anything, They'd Abolish it

By Ken Livingstone

Collins 367pp £12 order from our bookshop

Ken starts with a bang: ‘When I joined the Labour Party in March 1969 at the age of 23, it was one of the few recorded instances of a rat climbing on board a sinking ship.’ This book is about his career in London politics at Lambeth, Camden and the GLC. His personal life and beliefs are hardly mentioned. Yet the book is extraordinarily vivid and interesting. Maybe, as Flashman says, listening to a professional talk about his work is always worthwhile.

Here are a few of his observations: On the GLC in the ’70s, dominated by elderly part- timers: ‘…members speculated upon who was the richest millionaire, how much of Manhattan Willy Bell (a Labour councillor) owned and whether Lena Townsend really had a second houseboat on the Nile just for the family horses…’ On the GLC film censorship committee ‘the Labour side liked the sex and loathed the violence whereas the Tories did not seem to notice the violence but hated the sex…’

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