Ken Livingstone has Alzheimer's, his family say as ex-London mayor stops TV appearances

Mirror   19/09/2023 23:13

Ken Livingstone has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, it has been announced.

The former Labour mayor’s family said the 78-year-old had withdrawn from public life and would no longer appear on TV and radio. In a statement, they said: “The Livingstone family today announce that Ken Livingstone, ex-MP for Brent and former mayor of London, has been diagnosed with and is living with Alzheimer's disease.

"Although a previously prominent public figure, Ken is now retired and lives a private life.” They added: "Ken is being well cared for by his family and friends and we ask you for your understanding and to respect his privacy and that of his family."

While having largely retreated from public life in recent years, the political veteran was a prominent figure in London politics for more than four decades from the 1970s. In his heyday, "Red Ken" was a thorn in the side both of Margaret Thatcher's Tories and New Labour under Sir Tony Blair.

He stood as an independent and became the first mayor of London in May 2000 when then-PM Blair created the powerful post. In his second term, which he won as the official Labour candidate, he earned praise for the way he stood up for London after the July 2005 suicide bombings and helped win the 2012 Olympic Games for the capital.

Kate Lee, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We are really sorry to hear that Ken Livingstone is living with Alzheimer’s disease. Our thoughts are with him and his family.We can see from the high profile individuals who have recently spoken about their dementia diagnosis, including Alastair Stewart and Fiona Phillips amongst others, how prevalent dementia is.

"One in three people born in the UK today will go on to develop this devastating condition.We’re grateful to Ken’s family for being open about his diagnosis which will really help increase public understanding. It’s crucial we get people talking because a problem of this scale won’t go away on its own."

Mr Livingstone lost City Hall in 2008 when he was defeated by Boris Johnson. He became embroiled in a string of allegations of anti-Semitism, over which he quit the Labour Party in 2018. The ex-Brent East MP was singled out in a human rights watchdog report in 2020 into how Labour dealt with anti-Semitism claims, which said Jewish Labour Party members felt he had made comments that "had the effect of stirring up and fuelling hatred for Jews".

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