Dobson's name is dropped from Labour poll leaflets

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Indy Politics

Labour activists have refused to print Frank Dobson's name on party leaflets, in yet another blow to his campaign to become mayor of London.

As the latest opinion poll kept the former health secretary in third place in the mayoral race, the news broke that even Labour members have abandoned him. Activists in the London West Central constituency - Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster - left his name off their campaign literature and instead stressed support for the party.

Leaflets delivered in the constituency call for electors to "Vote Labour for London Mayor", but make no reference to the official candidate.

The decision was taken after members said they would not deliver leaflets that backed Mr Dobson. His key pledges, to create 100,000 jobs, reverse the rise in street crime and give free bus passes to under-18s, are all promoted without a reference to their author.

One insider in London West Central, one of 14 mega-constituencies drawn up for the Greater London Authority, said: "Party members discussed it and decided we simply couldn't deliver leaflets with Frank's name on them. They would have been left in piles."

The rebellion contrasts with bullish messages coming from Labour's Millbank HQ that between 3,000 and 5,000 activists are working for Mr Dobson, a claim the Livingstone camp dismissed as "fantasy figures".

A Livingstone campaign member said: "This proves what we have been saying for a long time, that there's a lot of anger among Labour members over the way Millbank conducted the mayoral selection."

Fresh polling evidence by ICM yesterday proved Labour's attempts to portray Mr Livingstone as an extremist had failed to harm his popularity. The former GLC leader leads on 51 per cent, with the Tory candidate, Steven Norris, on 17 per cent, and Mr Dobson on 14 per cent in third.

Mr Livingstone was the highest-rated candidate for honesty and competence, but more see him as more extreme than moderate. Some 45 per cent believe he is "extreme" but are still prepared to back him.

With the election next Thursday, the task for Labour will be to rescue Mr Dobson from third place to at least second.

Mr Livingstone stepped up his criticism of Gordon Brown yesterday after the Chancellor claimed he was "anti-jobs" and "anti-business". The Brent East MP said Mr Brown's policies of high interest rates and high exchange rates were threatening London jobs such as at Ford in Dagenham.

Mr Livingstone, who has infuriated Downing Street by calling for Mr Brown's sacking, also said the £22bn mobile phone auction cash could help to modernise the Tube.