Labour's NEC 'stacks the deck' against Livingstone

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KEN LIVINGSTONE'S chances of becoming Mayor of London suffered a possible fatal blow yesterday when Labour announced the system for choosing its candidate.

KEN LIVINGSTONE'S chances of becoming Mayor of London suffered a possible fatal blow yesterday when Labour announced the system for choosing its candidate.

The party's National Executive Council was immediately accused of a "stitch-up" after it said an electoral college would select the person to take on the Tory hopeful, Lord Archer. The college will consist of one-third trade unions, one-third MPs, MEPs and candidates for the Greater London Authority, and one-third party members in the capital.

With nearly all MPs and a large slice of members likely to back Frank Dobson, the system effectively kills off Mr Livingstone's hopes.

However, the electoral college makes it more likely the Brent East MP will be allowed on to the Labour shortlist with Glenda Jackson, the former transport minister, and Trevor Phillips, the broadcaster. The 13-strong panel will draw up a shortlist by the end of this month and the candidate will be in place by December.

Mr Livingstone said the system had been devised to "maximise" the vote of the former secretary of state for health, Tony Blair's favoured choice.

Writing in today's Independent, Mr Livingstone points out that giving the 75-strong MPs and MEPs section as much weight as the 70,000 party members made the system "unbalanced". "Each MP's vote will be worth 1,000 times more than that of a London Labour Party member," he writes.

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