Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London, has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, a statement from his family confirmed. Previously known for his influential role in London's political scene from the 1970s and onwards, Livingstone, now 78, has withdrawn from the limelight, opting for a more private life in retirement.
Livingstone's family said, “In light of media inquiries, we are confirming that Ken, former MP for Brent and once London's mayor, is living with Alzheimer’s disease. Despite his high-profile past, Ken is now focused on a quieter life.
He will not be available for any further media engagements. We kindly ask for your understanding and respect for his and our family’s privacy”.
Livingstone's Political Legacy
Once nicknamed “Red Ken”, Livingstone was both an ally and opponent to Margaret Thatcher’s Conservatives and Sir Tony Blair’s New Labour.
His political journey peaked when he secured a victory as London’s first mayor in May 2000, a position crafted by then-Prime Minister Tony Blair. Notably, in his second term, he championed London during the harrowing July 2005 terrorist attacks and played a significant role in the city winning the 2012 Olympic bid.
His tenure was not without controversies, and his 2012 election loss to Boris Johnson marked the end of his mayoral ambitions. By 2018, Livingstone resigned from the Labour Party following long-standing allegations of anti-Semitism.
Addressing his recent diagnosis, Alzheimer’s Society's Chief Executive, Kate Lee, expressed sympathy and emphasized the prevalence of dementia, noting that "one in three born in the UK today will be affected." She added, “It’s crucial we discuss it openly to increase understanding.
For anyone seeking guidance, our website and helpline provide numerous resources”. Alzheimer’s Research UK's CEO, Hilary Evans, echoed these sentiments, hoping that Livingstone's revelation would spotlight the urgent need for advanced dementia treatments.
While breakthrough drugs are on the horizon, Evans stressed the importance of persistent research to overcome dementia's devastating impact.