Livingstone and Johnson battle for second votes

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Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson made final pleas to Liberal Democrat supporters for their second preference votes as the battle to become Mayor of London headed for a photo-finish.

The Labour and Tory candidates poured praise on Liberal Democrat Brian Paddick during last night's final televised clash. With the two front-runners apparently neck and neck, the second preference votes of Mr Paddick's supporters could clinch Thursday's poll.

Mr Johnson told the packed debate, sponsored by The Independent and broadcast live on Sky News, that he disagreed with parts of Mr Paddick's manifesto. But he praised the former Metropolitan Police commander for protesting against hospital closures and said he had "some wonderful things to say".

Mr Livingstone has urged supporters to give their second preference votes to Sian Berry. But he told the meeting at Cadogan Hall, Chelsea, he agreed with 90 per cent of Mr Paddick's policies.

Asked who his supporters should put second on their ballots, Mr Paddick said: "They should vote for the best candidate first – me. Then make your own mind up which of these candidates you want to keep out."

Mr Johnson denounced Mr Livingstone for leading a "stale and wasteful" administration and promised "a fresh approach". He attacked Mr Livingstone for his "cronyism" and promised to bring a new transparency to the role. He also criticised Conservative members of the Greater London Assembly for not holding him to account. Mr Livingstone appeared to acknowledge the damage that accusations of cronyism had done and said he would offer jobs to Mr Johnson and Mr Paddick. He also said he was the man to oversee the construction of the £16bn Crossrail project.

Mr Paddick said the Mayor was out of touch and ridiculed Mr Johnson as an outsider born in New York, educated at Eton and representing an Oxfordshire constituency in Parliament.

The live debate was sponsored by The Independent, Sky News and Intelligence Squared.

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