Current Affairs

Ken Livingstone denies ‘scaling down’ £150-a-head gay fundraiser

Stephen Gray March 7, 2012
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Ken Livingstone’s campaign has denied ‘scaling down’ a £150-a-head gay dinner fundraiser for his bid to be elected London Mayor in 2012 after it emerged the event is now a £10 drinks reception.

An original press release said the evening would feature a three-course dinner with tickets from £150 to £250 and tables from £1500-£2500.

But as the Telegraph’s London editor Andrew Gilligan pointed out, the LGBT fundraiser has gone west, from the Grand Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden to Soho’s Shadow Lounge.

The Labour site now says: “Standard tickets cost £10 and include a complimentary drink on arrival as well as entrance to the club night following the event. VIP Tickets cost £50 and include the use of exclusive themed bar booths.”

Mr Livingstone’s campaign said the venue move was to facilitate a bigger audience.

A spokesperson told “The new venue allows more people to attend the fundraising event and to meet Ken. So far from being scaled down, the attendance is being increased.

“The lower price makes it more accessible to a wider audience, particularly younger people and students, who have shown great enthusiasm in attending the event.”

Gilligan connected the change of venue with a remark Mr Livingstone made last month about the Conservative party being “riddled” with homosexuality.

In the New Statesman interview, he condemns “hypocrisy, like some Tory MP denouncing homosexuality while they are indulging in it”.

He adds: “Well, the Labour [MPs] have all come out . . . 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.”

Mr Livingstone later said the Tory party showed “real progress” from a time when MPs were forced to resign if “exposed” as gay and that it had “caught up” with Labour.

Livingstone added: “There’s no harm being gay in the Tory party. It was actually a slightly back-handed compliment”.

Related topics: election, fundraising, ken livingstone, London, london mayor, London mayoral elections, Mayor of London

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