Livingstone declares war on Labour 'Daleks'

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The Independent Online
KEN LIVINGSTONE attacked the "Daleks" of Labour's Millbank headquarters last night after the party backed a selection system designed to kill off his chances of becoming the mayor of London.

The Brent East MP went on the offensive as the London Labour Party voted for a vetting panel to draw up its shortlist of candidates for the job.

The 29-strong board of the London party was expected to approve the proposal that all party members could nominate themselves for the candidacy before going before the special panel. The panel would then draw up a shortlist of about five names that would be sent to all members in the capital for a one member, one vote ballot.

Other leading contenders in the race for Labour's candidacy include the Sports minister, Tony Banks, the Transport minister, Glenda Jackson, and the Labour leader of the Socialist MEPs, Pauline Green.

The post of Britain's first directly elected mayor, with a mandate of 7 million voters, is a key part of the Government's constitutional reforms. Party officials are reluctant to allow Mr Livingstone, former Greater London Council leader, to take on the new role and its pounds 3bn budget and are determined to block him standing for the election in 2000.

The new procedure effectively overrules a system approved this summer by London party activists to allow automatic shortlisting of anyone with the support of more than 10 constituencies. Such a system would almost certainly have guaranteed Mr Livingstone's name appearing on any ballot paper, a risk that his opponents in the party leadership were not prepared to take.

Writing in today's Independent, Mr Livingstone blamed the party's faceless junior spin doctors for the "bandwagon of discontent" over selection rows in Wales, Scotland, the European Parliament and London.

"Almost all of it would have been avoidable if it were not for the tactics of the Dalek faction of Labour's Millbank tendency. We have got to get these nutters out," he said. "I wonder if there are some extremists who would rather see Labour lose these elections than fight them with an ideologically impure candidate. I for one will not be exterminated easily."