Nicholas Cecil and Joe Murphy
8 Feb 2012
Ken Livingstone sparked outrage today as he said the Tory Party was “riddled” with gay and lesbian people, called the head of the BBC an “imbecile” and claimed Margaret Thatcher was “clinically insane” when she was prime minister.
In an interview in the New Statesman, the Labour London mayoral candidate defended politicians keeping their private lives secret “unless there is hypocrisy, like some Tory MP denouncing homosexuality while they are indulging in it”.
He added: “As soon as Blair got in, if you came out as lesbian or gay you immediately got a job. It was wonderful… you just knew the Tory party was riddled with it like everywhere else is.”
During the interview, Mr Livingstone, who is leading Mayor Boris Johnson in the polls, rejected the idea of a State funeral for Lady Thatcher but says he no longer harbours the anger he felt when she was in power.
He called BBC director-general Mark Thompson “a moral imbecile” for vetoing the word Palestine in a protest song, said bankers’ bonuses were “like penis extensions”, and Henry Kissinger “wasn’t going to get laid until he was powerful”.
He denied ever lying in public life but added: “In your private life you do [lie], because you don’t want to hurt people’s feelings and all that and also you want to protect yourself.”
Overseas aid minister Alan Duncan, an openly gay Tory MP, said: “Many of us have managed to take this issue out of politics. It’s inexcusable for him to try to reintroduce it.” Angie Bray, Tory MP for Ealing, added: “Ed Miliband should condemn these outrageous comments and get him to apologise immediately.”
A spokesman for Mr Livingstone said: “Ken is clearly saying the advance of lesbian and gay people into politics is unequivocally a good thing. He has fought for equality for gay and lesbian people throughout his life, and the fact they are represented in all major political parties is a sign of the progress that has been made.”