As London struggled to comprehend the violence which attempted to tear it apart on 7 July 2005, Ken Livingstone delivered the speech of his life.
The then-mayor of London had been in Singapore celebrating the city’s victory in the competition to host the 2012 Olympics.
The city could hardly believe its ears when the announcement was made on 6 July that they had beaten Paris, the favourites, to the Games.
But the when the bombs exploded at four sites in London, Livingstone had to step up to make a far more solemn speech than he had no doubt planned.
Speaking from Singapore via video link, he seemed shaken but his words would deeply affect those that heard them.
Today he was pictured on LBC listening back to his words.
Visibly emotional, he heard himself speaking a decade ago as he spoke to the people of London…
This was a cowardly attack, which has resulted in injury and loss of life. Our thoughts are with everyone who has been injured, or lost loved ones. I want to thank the emergency services for the way they have responded.ADVERTISEMENT
Following the al-Qaeda attacks on September 11 in America we conducted a series of exercises in London in order to be prepared for just such an attack. One of the exercises undertaken by the government, my office and the emergency and security services was based on the possibility of multiple explosions on the transport system during the Friday rush hour.
The plan that came out of that exercise is being executed today, with remarkable efficiency and courage, and I praise those staff who are involved.
I'd like to thank Londoners for the calm way in which they have responded to this cowardly attack and echo the advice of the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair - do everything possible to assist the police and take the advice of the police about getting home today.
I have no doubt whatsoever that this is a terrorist attack. We did hope in the first few minutes after hearing about the events on the Underground that it might simply be a maintenance tragedy.
That was not the case. I have been able to stay in touch through the very excellent communications that were established for the eventuality that I might be out of the city at the time of a terrorist attack and they have worked with remarkable effectiveness. I will be in continual contact until I am back in London.
I want to say one thing specifically to the world today. This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It was not aimed at Presidents or Prime Ministers.
It was aimed at ordinary, working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young and old. It was an indiscriminate attempt to slaughter, irrespective of any considerations for age, for class, for religion, or whatever.
That isn't an ideology, it isn't even a perverted faith - it is just an indiscriminate attempt at mass murder and we know what the objective is. They seek to divide Londoners. They seek to turn Londoners against each other.
I said yesterday to the International Olympic Committee, that the city of London is the greatest in the world, because everybody lives side by side in harmony. Londoners will not be divided by this cowardly attack. They will stand together in solidarity alongside those who have been injured and those who have been bereaved and that is why I'm proud to be the mayor of that city.
Finally, I wish to speak directly to those who came to London today to take life.
I know that you personally do not fear giving up your own life in order to take others - that is why you are so dangerous. But I know you fear that you may fail in your long-term objective to destroy our free society and I can show you why you will fail.
In the days that follow look at our airports, look at our sea ports and look at our railway stations and, even after your cowardly attack, you will see that people from the rest of Britain, people from around the world will arrive in London to become Londoners and to fulfil their dreams and achieve their potential.
They choose to come to London, as so many have come before because they come to be free, they come to live the life they choose, they come to be able to be themselves. They flee you because you tell them how they should live.
They don't want that and nothing you do, however many of us you kill, will stop that flight to our city where freedom is strong and where people can live in harmony with one another.
Whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail.
Today many recalled the speech with admiration...
I will never forget the words of Ken Livingstone as we stood in the Singapore hotel 10 years ago. His finest hour in such adversity.— Adrian Warner (@adrian_warner) July 7, 2015
Ken Livingstone on 7/7. Exactly right. The one political speech of my lifetime that has made me cry. pic.twitter.com/NxDYB8CW8O— Hugo Rifkind (@hugorifkind) July 7, 2015
Ken Livingstone's finest moment https://t.co/ZuVKI2VUmq— John Rentoul (@JohnRentoul) July 7, 2015
When people ask me about my favourite speech, I often point them to this, by Ken Livingstone, 10 years ago today: http://t.co/lcCgo33Mip— Alex Marklew (@MarklewA) July 7, 2015
Today in column for the Evening Standard, Livingstone paid tribute to London’s spirit of unity and defiance in the weeks and months following the attacks.
He said: “The most wonderful thing was that we were not aware of any single incident of violence or abuse being directed against the city’s Muslims. Londoners’ response was watched around the world and in the weeks that followed, tourism numbers went up and people still continued to come to London to make it their home.
“That day of tragedy showed London at its finest, on a scale that equals the courage that previous generations showed in the horrific Nazi bombings of the Second World War. Until the day I die I will always be proud to have been mayor of this wonderful city and its people.”
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