Livingstone: I won't run as independent Labour or nothing for me will not run as independent'

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The Independent Online
KEN LIVINGSTONE has ruled out running as an independent candidate for the mayor of London, even though internal Labour polls show he could win if he went it alone. In his most categoric statement on the issue to date, the former GLC leader describes as "complete nonsense" the suggestion that he would quit the party if it prevented him from standing for the Labour nomination.

Writing in The Independent today, Mr Livingstone admits that the threat of him standing as an independent is a "nightmare scenario" for Millbank officials, but rejects the idea outright. "I have made clear again and again that I have no intention of leaving the Labour Party and it is becoming very tiresome that I have to repeat this," he writes.

The Brent East MP states that if Labour's National Executive Committee refuses to let him stand for the party's nomination, he would "throw myself wholeheartedly into trying to elect whichever ghastly little toady Labour has imposed".

He claims that if he were prevented from standing, Lord Archer, the Tory front-runner for mayor, would have an excellent chance. "Archer has placed himself perfectly to exploit any public backlash about Millbank control freakery if I am barred from seeking the Labour nomination," he says.

Mr Livingstone's comments follow reports that he had told friends that he could get an even bigger vote if he ran on his own rather than as the official Labour candidate. Although he would prefer to be allowed to take part in a "fair fight" for the Labour nomination, it was claimed that Mr Livingstone had been bolstered by the recent success as an independent of the Scottish MP, Dennis Canavan.

Internal polls commissioned by Labour's Millbank HQ showed that he could win without the party's endorsement and was far ahead in the public's mind as the future mayor.

Mr Livingstone must be aware that personalities will play a huge part in Britain's biggest ever presidential-style elections, and some research shows Londoners want a mayor who will stand up to the Government. Some of his allies are convinced he has made the psychological leap of considering a future outside the Labour party.

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