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28 October 2014

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You are in: London > News > London Elections 2008 > Features > No kissing and telling

Ken Livingstone

Ken Livingstone

No kissing and telling

This week has shown that when politics and personal come together, there will be no end to the surprises. BBC London's political editor Tim Donovan reports

About the only thing you can be sure of is that Brian Paddick has slept with fewer women than Nick Clegg.

Campaigning on the Holloway Road the morning after the news of his extended family broke, Ken Livingstone quipped: "Everyone seems to be keen to get pictures of me with children today. I can't imagine why that is."

"It seems quite clear that no special effort has gone into concealment"

Tim Donovan, BBC London

If Ken Livingstone was back to his best form within hours of the revelations it may suggest at least a couple of things.

Yes, it is possible that he was happier that the details appeared first on the BBC rather than in a newspaper with a record of hostility towards him.

Much more likely, of course, is simply the fact that a burden has been lifted. For more than a decade and a half, the threat of exposure has hung over him - more importantly over the two women and three previously undisclosed children he shares his life with.

Not secret, just private, he says.

It is possible, too, that the three children themselves, because they have reached their mid-teens undisturbed, are at least now at an age when they will understand the reason for disclosure, and the ways of the press.

In the long-term, could they come perhaps to feel some relief, even if at present mortified by the prospect of identification?

But the more pertinent question may be to ask why - in this age of the expose and the confessional - Livingstone has managed to keep his particular circumstances to himself?

It seems quite clear that no special effort has gone into concealment. In the local neighbourhoods involved, some claim to have known the facts for years.

It is clear all the family members involved have known everything, and many close friends too.

Neighbours; school events; foreign holidays; visits to City Hall; regular Sunday roast dinners where everyone could get together.

Simply a very modern set-up. And not even one especially unconventional. Particularly in the metropolis one certainly  with which many people will be able to identify.

London Elections

Perhaps the most fascinating thing here is that in an era when it is rare for the most personal facts - peccadillos even - of political figures to stay private for long, in the face of a fierce and unrelenting media, Ken Livingstone has managed a notable achievement.

In short, no relative, no friend nor foe, no bystander has spilled the beans..         
It doesn't take a detailed analysis of the methods of the popular press to work out that that is clearly because no one has felt the motivation to talk, whether out of spite or hurt or financial temptation.

There has been no kiss and tell.

Could that be because, just because, Ken Livingstone - though far from ideal, far from responsible, far from fair even on those affected - may at least have tried to do the best by all the people involved?

last updated: 20/05/2008 at 14:36
created: 06/04/2008

You are in: London > News > London Elections 2008 > Features > No kissing and telling

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