Leading Article: The race for London's mayor has descended into farce
Saturday 06 November 1999
Yesterday we were treated to a walk-on role for the Data Protection Registrar, of all people, who is following up complaints from Labour Party members that they have been receiving unsolicited mail from the Frank Dobson campaign. Perhaps the fact that Mr Dobson's staff saw fit to send one of their letters to a certain Mr Ken Livingstone asking for his support tells us all we need to know about that shambolic campaign. We can certainly look forward to more black comedy as the Labour leadership fastens upon more and more absurd ploys to stop Mr Livingstone running, which serve only to improve his standing. Precisely why the notion that all the candidates should simply compete on an equal basis seems so alien to Millbank remains a mystery. In any case we can still enjoy the is-she-ain't-she-gonna-run? routines of Glenda Jackson, who hasn't been in anything quite this funny since she worked with Morecambe and Wise.
Not that the Tories have performed any better, offering a contest between Steven Norris and Jeffrey Archer, a man from the past versus a man with a past - as Susan Kramer, the worthy Liberal Democrat candidate, put it.
But where are the big beasts of the London political jungle? Why did Michael Portillo and Peter Mandelson not think it worthy of their talents, even when they were in the political wilderness? Where is Simon Hughes? Where, even, is Richard Branson? The job of mayor of London does not deserve to be fixed; nor does the contest deserve to be a farce.
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