Livingstone is finally allowed on Labour's mayoral shortlist

Click to follow
Indy Politics

Tony Blair took one of the biggest political gambles of his life yesterday as Ken Livingstone was finally allowed on to Labour's shortlist for the mayor of London. The former GLC leader joined Frank Dobson and Glenda Jackson on the list after agreeing to a "loyalty pledge" to abide by Labour's manifesto for the capital.

Tony Blair took one of the biggest political gambles of his life yesterday as Ken Livingstone was finally allowed on to Labour's shortlist for the mayor of London. The former GLC leader joined Frank Dobson and Glenda Jackson on the list after agreeing to a "loyalty pledge" to abide by Labour's manifesto for the capital.

But the Prime Minister began an onslaught against Mr Livingstone by vowing to fight until "my last breath" to prevent Labour from returning to the extremism of the Eighties. "The old Labour Party back in those times led to 18 years of undisputed Conservative rule,"he said.

After months of speculation, the way is now open for the maverick MP to become the party's official choice for the battle against Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare next May. The decision not to block him was taken after a four-hour interview with the selection board. He promised to implement Labour's manifesto, work with the Government and never stand as an independent.

As Mr Dobson described the affair as a "shambles", Mr Livingstone said the panel backed down over a promise to agree to John Prescott's plans for funding the Underground. "He stood eyeball to eyeball with Millbank and they blinked," was how the Livingstone camp described the meeting.

The party said the ballot of its electoral college would begin in January, giving Mr Livingstone virtually no time to set up as an independent. Campaigning will begin in earnest from today, in what will be one of the most bitter internal battles for years.

Mr Livingstone has the support of most trade unions in the electoral college but must win at least 70 per cent of the 68,000 party members for any hope of victory. Mr Dobson is assured of backing from Mr Blair and among MPs, MEPs and Greater London Assembly candidates.

Mr Dobson said he was pleased he could now beat his main rival "fair and square".

Comments