Kenneth Robert Livingstone is a British Labour Party politician who has twice held the leading political role in London local government, first as the Leader of the Greater London Council from 1981 until the Council was abolished in 1986, and then as the first elected Mayor of London from the creation of the office in 2000 until 2008. He also served as the Member of Parliament for Brent East from 1987 to 2001. A democratic socialist, Livingstone has positioned himself on the hard left of the Labour Party.
Born to a working-class family in Lambeth, Livingstone joined the Labour Party in 1968 and was elected to represent Norwood at the GLC in 1973, before moving to represent Hackney North and Stoke Newington in 1977, and then Paddington in 1981. That year, he was internally elected to the leadership of the GLC; attempting to reduce London Underground fares, his plans were challenged in court and found to be illegal. More successful were his schemes to benefit women and underprivileged minorities, despite facing stiff opposition. A vocal opponent of the Conservative Party government of Margaret Thatcher, Livingstone was heavily criticised in the mainstream media for supporting controversial issues like republicanism, LGBT rights and a United Ireland, being given the moniker of "Red Ken" for his socialist beliefs. Viewing the GLC as a political threat and a waste of money, in 1986 Thatcher's government abolished the Council, putting Livingstone out of a job. Turning to a parliamentary career, he represented Brent East as an MP from 1987.