Pressure grows for Livingstone to stand as mayor

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The Independent Online
PRESSURE ON Labour to allow Ken Livingstone to stand for Mayor of London intensified yesterday when the Tories revealed that Jeffrey Archer will be allowed to stand.

As the London Labour Party prepared to meet today to determine its selection procedure for the post, the Conservatives made clear that the millionaire novelist would not be barred.

Tory sources confirmed yesterday that the party was committed to one member, one vote for its own selection, which is likely to take place next July.

Lord Archer's critics had hoped that he would be prevented from standing after a rash of new allegations about his past this summer.

However, Tory officials have decided that he will not have to appear before the party's new ethics committee unless new evidence is brought against him.

"If the members want Jeffrey, they can vote for him. We believe it should be up to them to decide, unlike Labour who are so terrified of giving their members any choice," a senior source said.

Mr Livingstone said last night that he could not believe reports that the party was preparing to sideline him in the race to become the capital's first directly elected mayor.

"I'm convinced that this is just briefing by the same over-zealous, young party officials who are claiming they don't want a contest in Wales and who have blocked sitting MEPs," he said. "Tony Blair has made clear his backing for one member, one vote and it would be very damaging for him to drop that commitment."

It emerged yesterday that the Prime Minister will be spared making a decision about the contest until the new year.

The board of the London Labour Party, which is today expected to back a panel that could rule out the Brent East MP, will pass on its decision to the organisational committee of the National Executive Committee later this month. The NEC will make a ruling in January on whether it will allow a "stop Ken" device.

Geoff Martin, London convenor of Unison, a union backing the former GLC leader, said that it was "outrageous" that a "trap door" was being considered to remove the MP.

Leading article, Review, page 3