Ken Livingstone’s human rights advisor Yasmin Qureshi argues in this week’s Irish World that the British media’s vendetta against the London mayor dates back to his support for the Irish community in the 1980s.
In John Carvel’s biography of Ken Livingstone – “Citizen Ken” – he describes how the press had not made up their minds about whether Livingstone was dangerous following his election as Leader of the Greater London Council: ‘Most newspapers made up their minds on or about 21 July 1981 when Livingstone entertained the mother of one of the IRA hunger strikers from the Maze prison.’
From this point on Livingstone was under attack. The Sun labelled him the most odious man in Britain. Each of the huge rows that erupted led to screaming and abusive headlines.
But the crime Livingstone had committed was to argue that a military solution to the conflict in Ireland was impossible and that therefore a political solution was required. That meant talks – including with the republican movement.
Qureshi will stand for Labour in Livingstone’s old seat of Brent East at the next election.