Ken Livingstone tells NME.COM hopes the Respect event will be an excuse to "celebrate what is so exciting about our great multicultural and diverse city"...

KEN LIVINGSTONE, Mayor of LONDON, has spoken exclusively to NME.COM about the summer of race riots and this weekend’s anti-racism RESPECT FESTIVAL.

Respect is a free, anti-racism festival organised by the Greater London Authority which takes place in Finsbury Park this Saturday (July 21).

Confirmed acts include Run DMC, Top Ten garage stars Mis-Teeq, Ms Dynamite, Courtney Pine, Desmond Dekker and Gorillaz collaborator Phi-Life Cypher.

Livingstone told NME.COM: “Firstly we want to show that young, black, urban music is the music that is groundbreaking and leading the way for all young people and that should be a source of pride and unity. Secondly we want to use the popularity of a music festival to win hearts and minds to the cause of opposing racism. And finally it is just a great day out for all Londoners to celebrate what is so exciting about our great multicultural and diverse city.”

Asked why race riots are happening in Oldham and Bradford, Livingstone said: “Although we still have much to achieve, in London we have made great strides over the last decade in creating a proudly multicultural city that will not tolerate racism. This type of effort has not been undertaken uniformly across the country. In some towns old prejudice has been allowed to fester. Policies that reinforce segregation in housing and subsequently in education – which have been identified in both Oldham and Bradford – have created a situation where Asian young people feel excluded, while white communities develop entrenched attitudes. Add poverty, poor housing and failures in policing and you have an explosive mix. This is what the neo-Nazi extreme right has whipped up and exploited. They have quite deliberately put a match to a fuse and are encouraging it to burn.”

For more, see this week’s NME, while next week’s issue is a special issue dedicated to Britain’s summer of riots.