Tears of a candidate: Ken wells up over London election broadcast

It's all too much for red-eyed Ken
It's all too much for red-eyed Ken
Alex Stevenson By

Ken Livingstone showed his emotional side in an unexpectedly tearful response to his election broadcast at his manifesto launch this morning.

The Labour candidate welled up while watching his "tear-jerker" of a party political broadcast along with around 30 supporters in east London.

He received physical comfort from party leader Ed Miliband, who offered a pat on the back after Mr Livingstone's eyes were seen to redden.

The unusual scenes were explained afterwards as a direct result of the emotional impact of the broadcast, which featured "ordinary Londoners" explaining why they believe Ken should return to City Hall.


"It's because if I lose, that’s fine, I'll go back to doing my radio programme," he told the Telegraph newspaper.

"But I lose the opportunity to help millions of ordinary Londoners for whom every day is now a terrible struggle."

Thoughts of a possible defeat may be prominent in Mr Livingstone's mind after an Evening Standard, LBC and London Tonight poll put him six points behind incumbent Boris Johnson, who leads by 53% to 47%.

"The Tory mayor has no understanding of what it's like to be an ordinary person struggling to put a hot meal on the table every night of the week," he added.

"If I fail to do that, it's a guilt I carry to my grave. I want the chance to make life better for ordinary Londoners."

'Better off with Ken'

Labour campaign strategists focused Mr Livingstone's manifesto launch on making millions of Londoners 'better off'.

The challenger's manifesto targets the wallets of struggling voters as the 2012 mayoral contest gathers pace.

Mr Livingstone promised to cut tube fares by seven per cent, cut rents via a London non-profit lettings agency and help households save over £150 a year on energy.

His lengthy manifesto also pledges to reinstate an educational maintenance allowance in the capital, reverse police cuts and offer grants and interest-free loans to help with childcare costs.

"Boris Johnson has argued strongly for a tax cut for millionaires while saying nothing about George Osborne's Budget which took money away from pensioners and families in London," Mr Miliband said.

"It's time for a mayor who will stand up for Londoners rather than backing measures which will make them worse off."

Mr Livingstone, in less emotional mood, said: "My manifesto today has at its core key pledges that will make Londoners better off by £1000 or more, through their fares, household energy bills, rents, education maintenance allowance and childcare costs.

"The Conservative campaign has nothing to offer by comparison. In the central choice on the cost of living, Londoners will be better off with a Labour mayor."

Mr Johnson has simplified his campaign into a 'nine-point plan' which concentrates on London's economy in more general terms.

He plans £3.5 billion of efficiency savings, 200,000 extra jobs and investing £221 million to boost local high streets. Tube delays will be cut by nearly a third while, above ground, 20,000 street trees would be planned under another four years of a Conservative mayor.
 

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