Ken Livingstone joined anti-war campaigners in Islington this weekend including former MP Tony Benn and local MPs Emily Thornberry and Jeremy Corbyn on Saturday.
Speaking on Saturday morning Mr Livingstone said he was “proud as Mayor to support the anti-war movement and to join the millions of people who demonstrated against the war in Iraq.”
“The majority of Londoners, and every major candidate at previous elections opposed the invasion of Iraq – as do myself, Brian Paddick for the LibDems, and Sian Berry for the Greens. Boris Johnson enthusiastically backed the invasion of Iraq.”
Ahead of joining the anti-war campaigners Mr Livingstone visited the Priory Green Estate alongside London Assembly member Jennette Arnold to meet local Labour supporters and residents. He then spoke with traders and shoppers in Chapel Market before joining the campaigners for a walkabout through Camden Passage.
Speaking to accompanying reporters the Mayor rejected suggestions he’d selected a friendly ‘lefty’ area to campaign in saying high mobility within the capital meant many areas had changed in character to such degree that no politician could take support for granted.
Citing Islington as an example Mr Livingstone said when he was a youth “you worried about coming over to Islington because it was a bit rough” but that a changing population and affluence meant “now you worry about coming over because you can’t afford a cup of coffee in a restaurant.”
In what will be seen as a deliberate attempt to distance himself from New Labour and Downing Street Mr Livingstone told reporters that the July 7th bomb attacks were a “direct” consequence of the Iraq war and that he didn’t want to see “Britain caught up in any more American adventures”.
The day’s mood was mainly positive with a number of shoppers and traders keen to meet and have their picture taken with Livingstone while for his part would-be three term Mayor seemed confident and relaxed.
After the walkabout Mr Benn said the public’s reaction to Livingstone had left him feeling “optimistic” about the election’s outcome.