Ken gets a boost as McLaren quits race

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Ken Livingstone's campaign for mayor of London received a double boost last night when it emerged that bothMalcolm McLaren and a leading advertising agency are backing him.

Mr McLaren, whose most eye-catching policy was to set up a brothel opposite the House of Commons, will announce next week that he is standing aside to support Mr Livingstone. The former Sex Pistols manager will act as the former GLC leader's "conscience" to ensure he sticks to his independent stance. Mr McLaren's spokesman said last night: "He likes Ken and wants him to be mayor, but he doesn't want Ken to start kissing Tony's ass as soon as he wins the election."

His endorsement came as one of the UK's biggest advertising agencies was hired by the Brent East MP. EuroRSCG Wnek Gosper, whose clients include Microsoft, Coca-Cola and The Independent, will run all communications and advertising for Mr Livingstone. Mark Wnek, the firm's creative director, described Mr Livinstone as "one of the most powerful and interesting brands in the country".

The move will be a blow to Labour as the agency was on the shortlist to handle its general election campaign.