Ken compares Boris to London rioters

By Alex Stevenson

London mayor Boris Johnson's student past has been compared with the behaviour of rioters by Labour challenger Ken Livingstone.

The former mayor, who served in City Hall for two terms before being ousted by Mr Johnson in 2008, used his speech to the Labour party conference to attack the Conservative incumbent.

Mr Johnson attracted criticism at the time of the riots for his delay in returning to London from a family holiday.

"Where was Boris Johnson when the riots happened?" Mr Livingstone asked.

"He refused to come back to London. We had the crazy situation of Londoners having to demand their own mayor come back."

Mr Livingstone then attacked the "personal example" set by Mr Johnson.

"What is the difference between the rioters, and a gang of over-privileged arrogant students vandalising restaurants and throwing chairs through windows in Oxford?" he added.

"Come on Boris – what’s the moral difference between your Bullingdon vandalism as a student and the criminality of the rioters? Neither is an example I want for my kids."

The ex-mayor pledged to protect policing and reverse cuts to frontline policing seen under Mr Johnson's mayoralty.

He was introduced by former London minister Tessa Jowell, who gave the iconic Labour veteran a warning about not reducing the mayoral election to a popularity contest.

"Ken, as we remember your achievements and the challenges ahead, we must make sure that the contest next May will not be just a contest of celebrity," she urged.

"It must be a campaign about who will be the most effective leader, the most effective mayor of London during these most difficult of times.

"A campaign about who understands the lives of real Londoners."