Livingstone to issue a Blairite manifesto

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The Independent Online
KEN LIVINGSTONE will today issue an ultra-loyal manifesto for his bid to become Labour's candidate for Mayor of London which adopts Blairite language and promises to run the capital by "consensus".

The left-wing MP, whose application form has been obtained exclusively by The Independent, said his qualities included his efforts to "promote Labour's values in a modern setting", a New Labour mantra often cited by Tony Blair.

Mr Livingstone declared: "The only way in which the Mayor can be successful is to build a London-wide consensus around each policy issue."

The only hint of potential tension with the Government came when he said the Mayor would have to provide some "early wins" to ensure public confidence in the new system of running London.

But the Brent East MP omitted many of his long-held policy positions from his personal manifesto. It has been sent to the Labour panel which will decide next Tuesday whether to include him on the shortlist of candidates from which the party will choose its standard-bearer in next May's mayoral election.

His statement will be seen as a typically cheeky attempt to avoid being blocked by the panel, a course favoured by some Blairites. Mr Livingstone declared that many of his criticisms of the Government's proposals for London government had now been answered by ministers. Crucially, he did not even mention his strong criticism of the Government's plans for the partial privatisation of the London Underground.

But Mr Livingstone's attempt to play the loyalist card before he is interviewed by the panel may be undermined by an article in a left-wing newspaper to be published next week.

In Campaign Group News, he describes the Government's public-private partnership for the Tube as "profoundly unpopular" and "the worst possible compromise on offer". He insists that Labour's selection process offers "a real opportunity to convince the Treasury to think again".

Mr Livingstone went on: "I am the only candidate left in the field who agrees with the 66 per cent of Londoners who think that the Tube should stay public. The policy choice couldn't be clearer."

In his personal manifesto, the former GLC leader claimed he has "an unsurpassed experience in handling the problems London faces." But his critics will accuse him of "rewriting history" over his time as the GLC boss.

His application included a quotation from Bill Bush, a former Labour adviser at the GLC who now works in Downing Street, describing Mr Livingstone as "an astonishingly good bureaucrat."

Ironically, Mr Bush is now said to be involved in gathering evidence of Mr Livingstone's past disloyalty to the Labour leadership.

Mr Livingstone has signed a statement promising to be bound by Labour's rules and accepting that the final decision about the party's candidate rests with its panel and National Executive Committee. This would not necessarily stop him running for mayor as an independent if he is blocked, though he has denied any such intention.

Projecting a "cuddly Ken" image in his application, the newt-loving MP included in his qualifications his work as trustee and former vice-president of the Zoological Society of London charity. Critics will point out that his CV showed he has not had a "real job" outside politics he became a full-time Labour councillor in 1974.

He previously spent eight years as a technician at the Royal Marsden Hospital.

The left-dominated Fire Brigades Union has decided to urge its London members to vote for Mr Livingstone to be Labour's candidate even if he is banned from the party's official shortlist.

Such a protest would mean the union's vote would be invalid. The Livingstone camp hopes other unions will follow suit.

This is an edited version of the "personal statement" which Ken Livingstone includes in his application form to become Labour's candidate for Mayor of London

"This time next year, Labour will be running London again. The election of the Mayor and assembly will be an exhilarating one for the party in London. London politics is already being reinvigorated by the prospect of democratic strategic governance for the capital. I have been passionately committed devolution since becoming involved in local government 28 years ago and have supported the party in its long struggle to achieve devolution in Scotland and Wales.

"The package of responsibilities designed for the Greater London Authority (GLA) avoids repeating the confusing mish-mash of powers given to the old GLC in 1963 and is the proper mix of regional responsibilities. If the mayor and assembly can work effectively this could be the model for devolved government for the English regions which is likely to be a crucial centrepiece of Tony Blair's second term.

"The shortcomings in the original White Paper's concept of the mayoral system - such as the weakness of the assembly and the lack of tax-raising powers - have been more than adequately dealt with by Labour's London team. The Mayoral system can be dramatic and popular success.

"As someone born and raised in London, I have been appalled at the growth of inequality over the last 20 years. As a child I grew up in a city where it was safe to wander and explore London's museums and parks on a clean and efficient public transport system. Massive capital under-investment since the 1970s has created a city which is unsafe and in which many fail to achieve their full potential.

"I had never met an unemployed person in London until the late 1960s or saw people sleeping in doorways. I want to do my bit to ensure that this city is as great to grow up in for future generations as it was for mine.

"Working with the Government's Social Exclusion Taskforce, the private sector and local government I believe we can tackle the deprived parts of London and give people a second chance to get the modern skills they need to compete in the job market. Recent polling has shown that of all the major policy areas, transport is the one where we are not yet having enough impact with the public. If the Mayor can build on the present pro- public transport consensus and demonstrate that a cautious and sensible use of the congestion charge can provide funds to revive public transport, then other cities will be able to copy our success.

"As a child I read of the squalor in Victorian London and how the lack of clean water fuelled one outbreak of cholera after another. I suspect that future generations will look back at the late 20th century and ask why we waited for so much of this century to tackle the congestion, accidents and pollution that were a by-product of the free-for-all approach on our roads.

"Just breathing the air in London doubles your chance of dying of lung cancer, half of the children living on main roads have asthma, and each winter thousands of Londoners die prematurely from respiratory diseases exacer- bated by car pollution. Tackling these problems would be a huge boost to Labour's popularity locally and nationally. Uniquely amongst Labour's Mayoral candidates my track record on public transport gives me a chance to carry public opinion with us as we make these changes.

"The recommendations of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry give us a chance to end the suspicion and divisions between some of London's communities and the police. In the meetings I attended following the bombings in Brixton, Brick Lane and Old Compton Street this year, I saw attitudes changing. I will seize this chance to modernise the police force so it is once again a model for the world in its relations with the public.

"A directly-elected Mayor will be a post of such high public visibility that the Mayor will inevitably lead the debate about the modernisation and development of the city.

If London with its wealth cannot show how to provide a decent quality of life for its citizens what hope can there be for the inhabitants of Calcutta or Mexico City?

"The innovations that must come from the new government of London could become a catalyst, which can feed into city policy-making around the world. After decades of stagnation London is now ripe for major reform and innovation."