Visitors from abroad
He is known among the ferociously irreverent British tabloid media as Red Ken.
And so it is no surprise to see Ken Livingstone, the left-wing Mayor of London, visiting Cuba and using the opportunity to praise Fidel Castro (of course) while having a go at one of his favourite enemies, the United States.
During his brief visit, Livingstone praised the Castro regime for giving Cubans what he described as “the best standard of health care” in the world and “brilliant education” in the face of that evil American “blockade”.
Sadly for Red Ken, his much-expected photo opportunity with the 80 year-old-dictator didn’t eventuate. It seems Castro is way too sick to meet anyone.
And the reaction back home in London was much as expected.
Angie Bray, who heads the Conservative Party in the London Assembly, said: “Its all the loony Left stuff that people thought he’d packed away.”
But the best response came in an editorial published by the best-selling The Sun newspaper.
“Ken Livingstone embarrasses our capital,” the editorial said. “London’s Mayor hails Communist Cuba, his spiritual home, for providing top-quality health care and education. Then he hurls abuse at America. Just one question, Ken . . . Why do boatloads of fleeing Cubans stop at nothing to reach Florida?”
Livingstone is on his way to see Hugo Chavez.
Photograph: Claudia Daut (Reuters)