Livingstone talks up Tory challenge

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Ken Livingstone urged his supporters not to take victory for granted yesterday amid fears that he could be defeated if Londoners fail to turn out for the Mayoral elections in eight days' time.

Ken Livingstone urged his supporters not to take victory for granted yesterday amid fears that he could be defeated if Londoners fail to turn out for the Mayoral elections in eight days' time.

Launching his manifesto for London, the Mayor called on the Liberal Democrats to give him their second-preference votes as his campaign team warned that a low turnout could cost him victory.

Labour said the Tory candidate, Steve Norris, posed a "serious threat" and claimed he would bring "cuts, gridlock and public squalor" to the capital. But the Lib Dems accused Labour of a "cynical ploy" and said Mr Livingstone was playing up the Tory challenge even though polling showed support for Mr Norris was falling.

"Labour did this in the Brent East by-election," a spokesman for Simon Hughes, the Lib Dem candidate, said. "They want Lib Dems to vote for Ken Livingstone so they can squeeze us. It is a straight ploy. They know the Tories can't beat them but we can if we get into second place because we are most likely to get second preferences." Polls show Mr Livingstone is in the lead on 41 per cent with Mr Norris 10 points behind, and Mr Hughes 17 per cent.

Mr Livingstone has pledged an extra £1bn a year for the Tube and to put new trains on many lines. He also promised 120,000 new homes across London in four years, and to force property developers to make 50 per cent of homes affordable.

The Mayor plans more police in every area and to use anti-social behaviour orders to stop ticket touts around Tube and rail stations. He will clamp down on "hate crimes" and attacks on victims based on their ethnic background.

On the environment, Mr Livingstone plans to demand that all new housing developments be powered in part by renewable energy including solar panels. He will also ban the worst-polluting lorries, coaches, taxis and buses from Greater London which will become a low-emission zone and will give free, energy-efficient light bulbs to every household. Darren Johnson, the Green party candidate for mayor yesterday gave Mr Livingstone credit for the congestion charge but he said other environmental measures had failed. "He backed building a six-lane motorway bridge in east London and passed plans to build on Erith marshes which will destroy biodiversity there. His record on bike lanes has also been pretty shameful."

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