Livingstone opens his mayoral campaign

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Indy Politics

Ken Livingstone launched his bid to make a comeback as London's Mayor yesterday, attacking his successor Boris Johnson over steep rises in public transport fares.

Mr Livingstone – who was ousted by Mr Johnson in 2008 after eight years in City Hall – was in Croydon to open his campaign to be Labour's candidate in 2012. He said his priority would be to "protect" Londoners from the recession and government spending cuts, and he promised to freeze his own and senior advisers' pay for the full term.

Candidates have until 18 June to put their names forward. The list will then be whittled down by a panel of national and London party representatives on 24 June before a series of hustings across the capital.

An electoral college, made up of an equal number of London party members and members of affiliated organisations, will then pick the candidate. The result will be announced on 22 September – the day before the party reveals who has won the race to succeed Gordon Brown as Labour leader.

Mr Livingstone formally entered the contest days after former MP Oona King announced her intention to fight him for the nomination as "a breath of fresh air" for the capital.

In a thinly veiled attack on her older rival, Ms King warned that Londoners did not need a "popularity contest based on who's wacky or who's stale".

But Mr Livingstone reserved his criticism for the incumbent mayor and released a list of high-profile Labour politicians from across the capital backing his campaign. "I want to be mayor for one overriding reason: if I am elected, my focus will be to do everything I can to protect Londoners from the recession and the effects of the Government's policies," he said.

"The global economic crisis, a fragile recovery that may go double-dip, and a government removing billions from the economy and planning cuts on a scale that Britain has not seen for decades, mean the mayor's priority must be to protect Londoners. I will use every lever to make sure our quality of life is protected and improved. [I will not be] a mayor who spends his time defending bankers [but one] who will use mayoral budgets and powers to protect ordinary Londoners."

Another priority for Mr Livingstone would be to examine fares on public transport. "Under Boris Johnson, a single bus fare by Oyster has risen by a staggering one-third, as has the price of a weekly bus pass," he said. "Instead of wasteful projects, the obsession with academy schools, the zany floating airport in the Thames Estuary, we must concentrate on defending public services and holding down fares."

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