Tories clear Archer to stand

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PRESSURE ON Labour to allow Ken Livingstone to stand for Mayor of London increased yesterday when the Tories revealed that Jeffrey Archer can be a candidate.

The London Labour Partymeets today to determine its selection procedure for the post. It may back a panel that could rule out the Brent East MP.

Meanwhile the Conservatives made clear that Lord Archer would not be barred. Critics of the millionaire novelist had hoped that he would be prevented from standing after a rash of new allegations about his past this summer. However, 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.

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

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."

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