For London Socialist, Taxes are the Answer

For London Socialist, Taxes are the Answer
AP omits Red from Livingstones resume in coverage of his worldwide tax proposal.

by Todd Drenth
June 7, 2005

     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 Livingstones suggestion of a worldwide tax on drivers.

     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 global warming.

     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, Livingstones political history is helpful and pertinent in understanding why he is a proponent of such a tax.

     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.

     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.

     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.

     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.