Parliament: Mayoral Race - Phillips attacks Millbank `fixers'

TREVOR PHILLIPS, who is hoping to run for London mayor next year, will todaylaunch an attack on the Government's efforts to get the Health Secretary, Frank Dobson, to stand as Labour's official candidate.

The television presenter, who has sought Downing Street's backing for his campaign, will warn that the "cycle of briefing and counter-briefing is not just damaging internal party morale, it is every day damaging the credibility of the process of devolution."

Mr Phillips will argue that treating the election as a "coronation" would only "alienate Labour voters and dishearten party members" at a time when core voters are already disillusioned. "The fix-up fiasco is nothing new. No disrespect to Frank but I think he and I would agree that I am better qualified for the job than him in one absolutely essential way: I want to do it," he will say. "The message I want to send out to the fixers and stitchers is simple. Leave off. Back off. Get off."

Mr Livingstone has made it clear he would be prepared to run as an independent if Labour fails to endorse him.