Saturday, 4 February 2012

You Can't Say That by Ken Livingstone

I recently read You Can't Say That by Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London, who is standing for re-election this May.

The book is an autobiography that takes in KL's childhood in Streatham, his backpacking trip to Africa as a young man, his years with Lambeth Council (which has its headquarters in Brixton, where I live) and then as leader of the Greater London Council (before its abolition by Margaret Thatcher's government), and finally his years as Mayor of London.

I generally read political biographies and autobiographies to put recent historical events into context and help me understand the lessons that can be learned from them, and also, let's face it, for gossipy behind-the-scenes anecdotes and scores-settling. There's quite a lot of procedural information about such-and-such a decision made at the GLC or at Lambeth Council to get through in order to unearth the amusing anecdotes, but they are there.

I read the book on my Kindle and I am experimenting with using the 'highlighting' tool and making the highlights public. Some people make a habit of annotating books they're reading, underlining key passages and scribbling in the margins. I have never done that as I have too much respect for the printed word - I just couldn't deface a book. But it's fine to do it on a Kindle copy as it doesn't alter the appearance of the book or make it difficult to read again.

Here are my favourite passages from KL's book, if you're interested.

If you are interested in UK politics and/or Ken Livingstone and/or the power and malicious interference of the British press in the daily business of either, you'll probably find this book interesting. I admire Ken Livingstone and voted for him as mayor and will vote for him again. I enjoyed his book and would recommend it.