Jackson stays in running as mayor hopeful

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Indy Politics

Glenda Jackson confounded pundits today by announcing she is to stay in the race for Labour's nomination for Mayor of London despite admitting she has little chance of winning.

Glenda Jackson confounded pundits today by announcing she is to stay in the race for Labour's nomination for Mayor of London despite admitting she has little chance of winning.

In a statement, the former minister for London transport said it would be "inconceivable" to have no woman standing for such an important job.

The announcement follows widespread media speculation that Ms Jackson would pull out of the race to allow Frank Dobson - thought to be Downing Street's favourite - a straight run against leftwinger Ken Livingstone.

Supporters of Ms Jackson delivered a blunt message to the Labour Party insiders they believe fuelled the rumours, to "back off".

In her statement, Ms Jackson said: "Over the last week and especially the last 24 hours there has been an increasing amount of media speculation as to whether I will remain in or withdraw from the race for the Labour nomination for Mayor of London.

"Despite a recent series of positive poll ratings I am realistic about my chances of securing the nomination under the selection system that has been proposed.

"However, I firmly believe that after everything the Labour Party has achieved for the political representation of women for a role as important as this, it would be inconceivable if there were not a single woman standing for the Labour Party selection.

"I will therefore continue to campaign for the nomination of the Labour Party candidate for Mayor of London and, if fortunate enough to be selected, will campaign equally vigorously to ensure it is a Labour Party candidate who is elected to govern our nation's capital."

Speculation had suggested that Ms Jackson would leave the race, following TV broadcaster Trevor Phillips' decision to pull out and become Mr Dobson's running mate and candidate for Deputy Mayor.

But sources close to Ms Jackson made clear her statement was intended to halt what they believe is briefing against her by staff at Labour's Millbank headquarters.

The sources said: 'This is direct message to the party machine to back off. 'Glenda may not have been the most flamboyant minister and she may well not secure the nomination for mayor.

'But two good things she does have are guts and integrity and they are attributes that still have a place in today's Labour government.'

A poll for London's Evening Standard has suggested Mr Livingstone had the backing of 50% of Labour supporters in the capital, with Ms Jackson next on 16% and Mr Dobson on 15%.

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