Former member (1973-1986) and leader (1981-1986) of the Greater London Council with a reputation as a radical socialist (a member of the tabloid-despised "Loony Left"). After Margaret Thatcher disbanded the GLC Livingstone went on to become an MP for the Labour Party. Having adopted a more moderate political position, Livingstone stood for nomination as the official Labour Party candidate in the London mayoral elections. Despite much popular support, the less controversial Frank Dobson was selected, via an internal election which some felt was too controlled by the party leadership who did little to disguise their distaste for Livingstone. Despite having earlier stated he would not, Ken chose to stand as an independent candidate and was expelled from the Labour Party.
Livingstone beat the other candidates: Frank Dobson (Labour), Stephen Norris (Conservative), Susan Kramer (Liberal-Democrat) and seven fringe candidates decisively in an incident filled election, becoming the first modern elected mayor of London.
To date Livingstone has not been fully reconciled with the Labour Party and one of the key points of conflict has been the proposed partial privatisation of the London Underground.