Labour asks for Lib Dem help to beat Johnson

Labour is trying to forge an informal "Lib-Lab pact" to head off the prospect of a victory by the Tory candidate Boris Johnson over Ken Livingstone in the election for London mayor.

Senior Labour figures have told the Liberal Democrats they will have a better chance of achieving their long-standing goal of changing Britain's first-past-the-post voting system by urging their supporters to make Mr Livingstone their second choice. Londoners have two votes in the 1 May contest. If, as expected, no candidate wins more than 50 per cent of the votes, second choices are taken into account. Opinion polls suggest they will prove decisive.

Gordon Brown is warming to the idea of electoral reform for the Commons, by adopting an alternative vote (AV) system. But Labour figures who support change are warning that it will be hard to make progress if the Liberal Democrats remain neutral in the race between Mr Livingstone and Mr Johnson.

Peter Hain, the former cabinet minister and a long-time supporter of AV, said: "The natural preference vote for Lib Dems in London is for Ken if they want to be part of the progressive London majority. This would strengthen the case of those who support it [AV]."

Sunder Katwala, general secretary of the Labour-affiliated Fabian Society, has written to Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, and his eight London MPs, asking them to make Mr Livingstone their second choice, saying: "If London's Lib Dem MPs and other senior voices do not offer a lead, the likely outcome is that LibDem second preferences will divide equally enough to see Boris Johnson elected as Mayor by the back door." He then proposes a "progressive insurance policy" against a Tory win in which the MPs would urge Labour supporters to make Brian Paddick, the Liberal Democrat candidate, their second choice.

Mr Paddick refused to be drawn yesterday on how his backers should use their second vote. This is a dilemma for the Liberal Democrats, especially as Mr Livingstone and the Green Party candidate, Sian Berry, have already made such a pact.

Today Mr Johnson will highlight Mr Livingstone's "broken promises" during his two terms in office. "[Livingstone] is not a man of his word and has consistently promised to do one thing during an election only to not deliver it afterwards," the Tory candidate will say.

*Labour is so worried about the popular appeal of "Boris" that ministers have started a "swear box" into which they must put £5 when they refer to him by his first name alone. Tessa Jowell, the minister in charge of Labour's campaign in London, has urged the Cabinet to call him "Boris Johnson" or "the Tory candidate" to try to minimise the popular appeal of a man best known for his television appearances. "What we have is a situation where people think that this election is a joke and the future of London is not serious," she told Sky News.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Recruitment Genius: PA

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A PA is required to join a leading provider of...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert