Mayoral hopefuls compete to show loyalty and socialist roots

TWO DESCRIBE themselves as socialists, two are called Ken. All of them claim they're not Millbank clones.

In what might appear to be a Blairite's worst nightmare, four hopefuls handed in their applications for one of the biggest jobs in British politics yesterday.

Frank Dobson, Glenda Jackson and Ken Livingstone were joined by a little- known party member, Ken Baldry, as the party's deadline for nominations for the Mayor of London passed at 5pm.

All candidates were immediately subject to "gagging" clause preventing them from attacking each other or the Labour Party, but three of them managed to distribute their personal statements for the job. Mr Livingstone declined to make his own application public until the 12-strong selection panel had seen it.

Mr Dobson's own statement, which twice includes the phrase "as a socialist", tried to raise the stakes in the contest by declaring that he would not run as an independent if beaten for the Labour nomination.The move was a clear attempt to force Mr Livingstone into making a similarly unequivocal declaration.

Mr Dobson, who has the backing of Tony Blair, made tackling crime and poverty the centrepiece of his application. "I want to see a London where everybody feels safe on the streets ... Where everybody who works for a living is paid a living wage," he said.

Ms Jackson also proclaimed her own "socialism", and pledged to tackle homelessness in the capital.

Mr Baldry, a 56-year-old computer consultant from Islington, claimed that he was the first person to enter the mayoral race last year when he launched his own website for the job. The former Labour councillor wants motorists to be restricted to driving in zones similar to Tube zones, and told The Independent yesterday that he was stockpiling coal and wood for fuel in the new year because of his fears about the millennium bug. "I'm sure I will get on to the shortlist," he said.

The party will interview hopefuls next Tuesday and announce its shortlist immediately afterwards.

John O'Farrell, Review, page 5