Leader: A very long engagement . . .

The New Statesman supported me when I was being battered from pillar to post by the tabloid press

This one-off New Statesman guest edit tries to deal with some of the most important issues in the world today - from peace in the Middle East to climate change and the challenges facing our cities.

I have invited international contributors to take part, such as the daughter of the deposed president of Honduras. The Hamas leader Khaled Meshal took part in an exclusive interview with me. Jarvis Cocker calls to cancel Trident's replacement.

I have also been able to indulge my interest in science fiction, including the chance to speak to the great Iain M Banks. And I am delighted to welcome old friends and colleagues such as Norman Cook and Vivienne Westwood, who have contributed to the books and culture pages.

I have a huge amount of affection for the New Statesman. The first time I ever came in to meet the staff of the magazine was in August 1981, when I was being battered from pillar to post by the tabloid press over the GLC's positions on women, lesbian and gay rights, Ireland, and racism. To my complete surprise, the NS staff were enthusiastic about what we were trying to do, and told me to stand firm. I was grateful to them then, as I am grateful to the brilliant staff today for their hard work in producing this special edition of the magazine.

I hope you enjoy the issue and continue to support the NS when normal service resumes next week.

Ken Livingstone is the former Mayor of London.

This article first appeared in the 21 September 2009 issue of the New Statesman, Citizen Ken