Dobson denies 'piling rubbish' on mayoral candidates

Delay in declaring his candidacy caused by fears of 'possible intrusion' by newspapers
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Indy Politics

Would-be Mayor of London and likely Labour candidate, Frank Dobson, has denied running a dirty-tricks campaign. "I have certainly not been piling rubbish on anybody." Asked whether it could be others in his camp, he said: "I don't know about that but I have not been doing it." He hit out at claims made yesterday that he was rubbishing rival candidates in the campaign.

Would-be Mayor of London and likely Labour candidate, Frank Dobson, has denied running a dirty-tricks campaign. "I have certainly not been piling rubbish on anybody." Asked whether it could be others in his camp, he said: "I don't know about that but I have not been doing it." He hit out at claims made yesterday that he was rubbishing rival candidates in the campaign.

Former transport minister and Oscar-winning actress Glenda Jackson claimed people were briefing against her and warned against "all-out rubbishing". Ms Jackson also showed her anger at "absurd" briefings going on against her and attacked the Labour party for the way it was handling the election.

Ms Jackson - recovering from an appendix operation at Lewisham Hospital - said there were "absurd" briefings going on against her.

"It's not yet full-out rubbishing and if they go for full-out rubbishing then we can all play that game," she said.

Mr Dobson went on to explain why he took such a long time to declare himself as a candidate. "I was Secretary of State for Health and I was really committed to that task but various people had been approaching me saying 'We think you ought to run'.

"I discussed it very carefully with my wife and family because I was fearful of the possible intrusion from newspapers and other people into the private lives of my children and my wife.

"They eventually said 'Go ahead, we think you ought to do it. I discussed with a limited number of very close colleagues and at the Labour Party Conference I finally told the Prime Minister that I had made up my mind to do the job."

Mr Dobson said he was surprised at the decision to use an electoral college system to decide the party's candidate instead of the one-member, one-vote system which is seen as favouring Ken Livingstone.

"I didn't decide it, the National Executive Committee decided it," he said.

"No electoral system is perfect but this is the one the National Executive Committee decided on, not at my behest or request and at equal surprise to me as anyone else."

Mr Dobson's also said he wanted the unions -which make up one-third of the college - to ballot their members on who should be Labour candidate.

"I believe they should ballot their members," he said.

Mr Dobson's claims come after the race to be Labour's candidate threatened to degenerate into bitterness over the weekend.

Left-wing MP Bernie Grant launched a bitter attack on Mr Livingstone as he announced he was supporting former Health Secretary Mr Dobson as Labour's candidate.

He said "Ken Livingstone has been an MP since 1987 and his utterings on racism have been opportunistic and rare. If anything, he has been a divisive influence and he should be wary of trumpeting his record on anti-racism while leader of the GLC.

"I feel he didn't listen to black people then and he still doesn't. He is a loner who just likes to oppose rather than take considered action."

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