Livingstone says party helping rival

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Indy Politics

The battle for Labour's nomination for the mayor of London reached new depths of bitterness last night as Ken Livingstone accused Frank Dobson of using official party lists to clinch the contest.

The battle for Labour's nomination for the mayor of London reached new depths of bitterness last night as Ken Livingstone accused Frank Dobson of using official party lists to clinch the contest.

The former GLC leader also claimed that each of the capital's 57 Labour MPs had been asked by the Dobson camp to supply a member of staff to help his campaign. Mr Dobson's office denied the allegations, but revealed that "sympathetic" MPs and MEPs had supplied lists with the names of every member in London.

The controversy erupted as it emerged that Labour's rules allow candidates to spend as much as they like on their campaigns until the party's shortlist is drawn up next month. Mr Dobson has sent out a direct mailshot to every one of the 68,000 members in the capital, prompting Mr Livingstone to claim he was being "outspent". He has spent £30,000 to date, but claimed his rival's mailshot, office and staff costs would top £100,000.

Writing in today's Independent , the Brent East MP warns that the lack of restrictions before the shortlisting is unfair to candidates without big financial backers. He says: "There's nothing wrong with a bit of excitement and I'm happy to throw myself into the fray. But the party must ensure that those who cannot raise the resources are not excluded.".

Nick Raysnford, Mr Dobson's campaign manager, said:"No wonder he cannot match Frank Dobson's campaigning, his lack of policy has been rumbled ... that's why he's now running scared."

Ken Livingstone,

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