Ken Livingstone: Former London mayor suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, his family announces
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Former London mayor Ken Livingstone is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, his family has announced. The one-time figurehead of the Labour left is being “well cared for by his family and friends” as he lives a “private life” in retirement, they said in a statement issued to the PA news agency.
It said: “In response to media enquiries 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. He will no longer be available for any media interviews or requests and we will not be responding to any media questions or enquiries.
“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 78-year-old 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 of both 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-prime minister Sir Tony 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.
Mr Livingstone lost City Hall in 2008 when he was defeated by an equally colourful opponent in Boris Johnson and a failed bid to return to office in 2012 marked the end of his electoral ambitions.
He became embroiled in a string of allegations of anti-Semitism, over which he quit the Labour Party in 2018. It came after a long-running row over his claims that Adolf Hitler had backed Zionism in the 1930s, which had originally seen him suspended from the organisation in 2016.
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”.
On Tuesday, it was reported that Mr Livingstone withdrew a legal challenge to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report.
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
According to the NHS,Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia in the UK. Dementia is the name for a group of symptoms associated with an ongoing decline of brain functioning. It can affect memory, thinking skills and other mental abilities.
The exact cause of Alzheimer's disease is not yet fully understood, although a number of things are thought to increase your risk of developing the condition.
These include increasing age, a family history of the condition, untreated depression, lifestyle factors and conditions associated with cardiovascular disease.