Mon 17 Nov 2003
London Mayor Livingstone Denounces President Bush
By Andrew Woodcock, Political Correspondent, PA News
London Mayor Ken Livingstone today denounced US President George Bush - who arrives in the capital tomorrow for the start of his state visit - as a threat to life on Earth.
Mr Livingstone is planning an "alternative reception" during Mr Bush's visit for those who were opposed to the war in Iraq.
And he said that he did not formally recognise Mr Bush as President, because of the uncertain result of the 2000 election, which saw the former Texas Governor win fewer votes than Democrat rival Al Gore and claim victory on the basis of a contested count in Florida.
Mr Livingstone's comments in The Ecologist magazine are certain to infuriate Prime Minister Tony Blair, at a time when delicate negotiations are reported to be under way for his readmission to the Labour Party in time to stand as its candidate in next year's mayoral election.
The mayor told the magazine: "I was in California over Easter and I was denounced by all and sundry for being rude about George Bush at the Stop the War Rally.
"Well, I think what I said then was quite mild. I actually think that Bush is the greatest threat to life on this planet that we've most probably ever seen.
"The policies he is initiating will doom us to extinction."
Explaining why he was holding a party for opponents of the President, Mr Livingstone said: "I don't formally recognise George Bush because he was not officially elected.
"So we are organising an alternative reception for everybody who is not George Bush. We are trying to get (radical author) Michael Moore over as our guest as the alternative voice of the US and then get all the environmental and peace movements here in this building for a 'not the George Bush reception'."
Mr Livingstone also voiced support for a United States of Europe to provide a powerful bloc to rival the US globally with a "less rapacious form of capitalism".
In a side-swipe at the Prime Minister, he said he was "amazed" when Mr Blair pressed ahead with the policies in the party's 1997 manifesto, which he had assumed were simply "guff" to placate the right-wing press and would be dropped as soon as Labour took power.