In his autobiography, You Can't Say That, Ken Livingstone reveals that, in the early 1990s, while living with his long-term partner, Kate Allen, he was asked by two women if he would father their children. The first woman, journalist Philippa Need, had a daughter in August 1990 and a son in September 1992. He also helped out Jan Woolf, a teacher and political activist, who gave birth to Livingstone's second son in November 1992, just weeks after the first.
The former – and indeed possibly future – London mayor, right, made it clear that in each case he was doing a favour for a friend,"be[ing] around, taking an interest" in the children and "supporting them emotionally", but not living with the mothers. Ten years later, after his relationship with Allen had ended and he had got together with Emma Beal, another journalist, he became the father of two more children.
Despite the potentially awkward convergence of dates in 1992 – which suggest that, while co-habiting with one woman, he impregnated two others – the outcome was a happy one, with all three mothers and all five children enjoying summer holidays together. But would Livingstone be the ideal sperm donor? Were he to fill in a form on a donor website, how would it read?
Name: Kenneth Livingstone.
Date of birth: 17 June 1945.
Status: Socialist. That a problem?
Blood type: Red.
Income: Never you mind.
Voice: Attractively whiney. Think Thom Yorke, only more relentless.
Interests: I knew this would come up. All right then, salamanders. Are you still going on about the bloody salamanders?
Profile: Determination, not to say extreme stubbornness, have been my watchwords since I joined Norwood Young Socialists in 1968. Any child of mine would inherit an implacable refusal to compromise with others. When it comes to tabling abstruse motions in 437 paragraphs with multiple clauses, I am fabulously non-negotiable. I can spend hours, weeks, months making sure I get my own way. And I will teach our offspring that, if he/she is ever thwarted, or crossed or defeated in, say, just for argument's sake, a MAYORAL ELECTION, the best course of action is to spend the next few years in a colossal, vengeful, fist-shaking sulk. If I have a fault, it's that I'm too nice to everybody. I make friends wherever I go. With South American socialist quasi-dictators. More recently with Islamic scholars who are keen on female genital mutilation. But, as I would explain to our future child, there must be a limit to tolerance. Just don't start me off about Israelis and Saudi royals.
I like women who share the same political ideals as me; who sit on my committees; see the value of my views; don't argue and agree that I should father their kids.
Above all, I think it important that I spread tiny versions of myself – little clones and homunculi – around the country before it's too late.
Will you join me in this important work? Go on. You might appear in the index to my next volume of autobiography.