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Former London Mayor targets African voters

Jul 7, 2011, 12:58 PM | Article By: Alhagie Mbye, The Point’s UK correspondent

As the London Mayoral election approaches, the former Mayor of the city, Ken Livingston, visited several areas with a large presence of West Africans including Gambians, Nigerians, Sierra Leoneans and Ghanaians asking them to vote for him as mayor.

This correspondent received a prompt invitation to an event called the `Tell Ken` where voters were invited to tell or ask the former Mayor `what they think`.

Organisers of the Ken Livingston campaign, who is the Labour`s candidate for Mayor, said the event will be everyone`s opportunity to `tell Ken what he should do if he is elected in 2012`.

A leaflet handed to The Point by the organisers stated that `London needs a Labour Mayor more than ever to stand up for the most vulnerable in our society`.

They blamed the current Tory Mayor Boris Johnson for hitting the `poorest hardest with his 44 percent increase in bus fares` while scrapping the western congestion charge zone benefitting the polluters in areas of West London`.

It is important to note that it was Ken as Mayor who successfully introduced the London congestion charge.

Ken who worked as a cancer research technician before getting involved in politics joined Labour in 1968, and later became a passionate critic of the policies introduced by the government headed by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Ken never spares his own party when it comes to what he believes in, and openly attacked the Labour government headed by former Prime Minister Tony Blair for the Iraq war.

He reportedly called himself a `socialist` and following a `quarrel` with certain officials in his own party, Ken was later `expelled` from Labour.

However, it was not the end of Ken and using his own initiative, he campaigned and ran successfully for the post of London Mayor, and was elected as an independent candidate in 2000.

Nevertheless, in the 2008 mayoral elections, he was defeated by the Conservative Party candidate Boris Johnson who is still the current Mayor of London.

On the other hand, the incumbent is also campaigning very hard.

The `Back Boris` campaign is currently gaining momentum in the city. Boris supporters are also busy disclosing his performance and record, as well as achievements for the city.

Boris who was a famous journalist also undertakes various jobs, and had joined The Daily Telegraph since 1987. He later joined The Spectator and started his political column in 1994 until he became editor of the paper. He has published several books, and has been regularly featuring on TV.

Many political observers have said that besides his achievements, his popularity with the media included could boost his chances for re-election.

The campaigning continues.