For London Socialist, Taxes are the
AP omits ‘Red’ from Livingstone’s resume
in coverage of his worldwide tax proposal.
by Todd Drenth
June 7, 2005
Â Â Â Â “Journalists customarily identify officials by their political
parties because it gives context for their statements and actions.
But the Associated Press omitted this vital information in its
recent coverage of socialist London Mayor Ken Livingstone’s
suggestion of a worldwide tax on drivers.
Â Â Â Â On June 5, 2005, the Miami Herald and The Washington
Post ran an Associated Press article by Terence Chea that described
the “congestion tax” recommended by Livingstone at the June 3 U.N.
World Environment Day Conference in San Francisco. Livingstone,
commonly known as “Red Ken” for his radical leftist policies,
imposed a similar tax on London drivers despite protests in February
2003. At the U.N. conference, he urged dozens of mayors from around
the world to adopt the tax, claiming that charging fees for driving
in congested areas could decrease traffic congestion and fight
Â Â Â Â Environmentalists have been advocating for such
legislation, particularly in big cities, “but the idea has not
gained much traction,” Chea wrote. The article voiced the concerns
San Francisco businesses have about the possibility of a congestion
tax. However, the Associated Press article failed to include any
notable political background of Livingstone. As a leader the English
tabloids once called a “Commie Monster,” Livingstone’s political
history is helpful and pertinent in understanding why he is a
proponent of such a tax.
Â Â Â Â The only political background on Livingstone that Chea
included is the fact that he was elected mayor of London in 2000 and
reelected in 2004. There was no mention of his party affiliation or
his core beliefs. “Red Ken” was ejected from the Labour Party in
2000 when he entered the campaign for mayor as an independent, but
he was readmitted to the Party in 2004 when they realized they did
not have a candidate who could beat him.
Â Â Â Â Livingstone was the leader of the last metropolitan
government of London, the Greater London Council (GLC) in the 1980s.
While the leader of the GLC, he supported gay rights, declared
London nuclear free, and met with Irish Republican Army (IRA)
supporters at a time when the IRA was still setting off bombs in
London and targeting British officials for assassination. His
leadership of the GLC during the 1980s helped the Labour Party
become known as the “looney left” and prompted Prime Minister
Margaret Thatcher to abolish the GLC in 1986.
Â Â Â Â “Red Ken” also has a history of making controversial
statements. In an interview with the New Musical Express in April
2000, weeks before the mayoral election, he said, “Every year the
international financial system kills more people than World War II.
But at least Hitler was mad.”
Â Â Â Â And in November 2003, while President George W. Bush
was in London, Livingstone called Bush “the greatest threat to life
on this planet that we've most probably ever seen.”