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9/11 memories: Ken Livingstone

We asked the former mayor of London: where were you on 9/11?

I was told about the events in New York at a meeting in my office at the temporary headquarters for the Greater London Authority in Romney House, Westminster. Someone came in to say put the TV on. Our meeting soon broke up as the assaults unfolded. It was when the second tower had been hit that the implications started to crystallise. It was impossible in those minutes to take in fully what was happening, though I remember someone saying that this was going to change all politics.

In the following months, we worked closely with Mayor Rudy Giuliani's office and with the agencies that promoted air travel between the two cities to help overcome the sharp decline in numbers of Americans coming to London, but also to encourage Europeans to come here to help deal with the damage to London's visitor trade. The biggest impact, of course, from which we are still learning, was on security and counterterrorism. From that point on, I feared London would face a similar attack. A lot of time and work went into resilience planning.

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Ken Livingstone is the former Mayor of London.

This article first appeared in the 05 September 2011 issue of the New Statesman, 9/11