By Joseph Willits
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The Boris vs Ken battle has always added some colour to political life in London, and it seems that more is yet to be revealed in Livingstone's upcoming autobiography. Although Decca Aitkenhead in the Guardian has described it as "an exhaustive account of internal local government machinations, city hall bureaucracy, transport policy memos" having "more psephological detail than even the nerdiest anorak could conceivably want", certain revelations are likely to reignite tension as 2012's election campaign gears up.
Through humour, Ken admits, Boris has the knack of "getting away with it", diverting attention away from tough decisions, but during 2008's election campaign "the mask slipped". The example he cites is as the camera faded after the two men appeared on Questiontime:
"After Question Time the cameras were still on us as a smiling Boris draped his arm around my shoulders and said, 'If you carry on talking about my great-grandfather I'm going to punch your lights out.'"
The comments were made after Ken's insistence that Boris' Turkish grandfather was a British spy.
Despite Ken's previous assessment that the choice between him and Boris in 2012 is comparable to the "choice between good and evil … between Churchill and Hitler", these appears something jovial and lighthearted about their relationship. In her interview with Ken, Decca Aitkenhead asked just that. Ken responds with laughter:
"Every time I see him, he says, 'Let's have lunch, we must have lunch.' And then I never get an invite. It never happens. He says it to everybody all the time. Unless I grow breasts and a blond hairdo, I'm never going to get an invite."
There seems a degree of resentment from Ken of Boris' ability for "getting away with it". The reason being "because his [Boris'] friends own and control the media" says Ken on the reception of his Hitler comparison.
In his autobiography, Ken also reveals being threatened by Blair in 1997, prompting the two men not to speak one to one until 7 years later:
"A few weeks after the Labour party conference, Blair invited me in for a one-to-one chat. When he asked how I thought the government was doing after six months, I didn't pull any punches. "Much worse than I expected," I told him. When he asked if I was interested in serving in his government, I said, "I don't see any point…" Blair's pleasant demeanour evaporated, his face hardened and although I can't remember the exact words he used, it was along the lines that if I obstructed his reforms he would destroy me"
Ken also writes in his autobiography about being asked by Labour peer, Margaret McDonagh to demand Brown's resignation. His response was to inform Brown of the plans through Ed Balls:
"For all my doubts about Brown I wasn't going to help hand the party back to the Blairites so I phone Ed Balls on his mobile to warn him"