For this week's issue of the New Statesman (on newsstands tomorrow), Jemima Khan interviewed -- on the same day -- both of the leading contenders for the 2012 London mayoral election: the incumbent, Boris Johnson, and the inaugural mayor, Ken Livingstone.
Here are some edited from Khan's breakfast with the Labour challenger.
Ken on Boris:
I think he has real ability, real intelligence, and he just never achieves his potential with it. It is why I think in the end he won't be prime minister . . . I don't think he has really got a solid ideological brain, like [George] Osborne or [William] Hague. It is very hard to find anything in Boris's career that he's serious about. He just loves life too much to really succeed as a politician.
Ken on Thatcher:
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I am not going to watch it [The Iron Lady]. I do not want to feel sympathy for her. I feel sympathy for the people whose lives she destroyed.
Boris Johnson quick-fire questions
How important to you is it to be liked?
No more than most politicians.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
It's something to do with a bottle of wine in the sun and then a swim and that sort of thing . . .
What is your greatest fear?
Finding myself on a beach with Ken Livingstone.
Which living person do you most admire?
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Excessive candour with journalists.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Concealing the truth. Making false promises and failing to deliver.
On what occasions do you lie and when did you last lie?
There is some sort of paradox in that question, I know . . . I think it's perfectly true that I inadvertently told someone that we reduced Tube delays by 20 per cent when it turns out that we reduced them by 40 per cent and I regularly regret the error, but there is nothing I can do about it. At last - I got the truth out.
Which living person do you most despise?
I'm not big on hate.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Obviously my wife.
If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?
I have got this project - I am learning the Iliad off by heart, and at the moment I am only on line 100 and it is so laborious. I wish I had a proper eidetic memory.
What is your motto?
I think my motto is drawn from my grandmother. She used to say: "Don't worry, darling - it's not how you are doing, it's what you are doing."
When did you last cry?
Wait, wait, wait, there was something . . . the tears did well up . . . Some play or film . . .
The Iron Lady?
No, no. I don't want you to get the idea . . . I am capable [of] the melting mood - I drop tears as fast as the Arabian tree, its medicinable gum.
What do you do to relax?
What I do is submit to a really long, gruelling interview. My idea of perfect relaxation is an hour with the New Statesman.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Good question. If the readers of the New Statesman buy Johnson's Life of London - still available at all good outlets - they will find a number of historical characters that I greatly admire. I leave it to them to guess which, having read it.
What is your greatest boast?
That we have delivered a sound, progressive administration of London over the last four years which has cut tax and cut crime.
London specific, but it's being touted as 'the battle which will define the next general election'.
Also Ken's remarks on homosexuality and the hypocrisy of politicians have apparently caused a stir, which is ironic considering there are few politicians of his stature who have such a pro-LGBT record reaching as far back as his does. His phrasing was admittedly crap though, ngl.