Livingstone to issue a Blairite manifesto

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Indy Politics

Ken Livingstone will today issue an ultra-loyal manifesto for his bid to become Labour's candidate for Mayor of London which adopts Blairite language and promises to run the capital by "consensus".

Ken Livingstone will today issue an ultra-loyal manifesto for his bid to become Labour's candidate for Mayor of London which adopts Blairite language and promises to run the capital by "consensus".

The left-wing MP, whose application form has been obtained exclusively by The Independent, said his qualities included his efforts to "promote Labour's values in a modern setting", a New Labour mantra often cited by Tony Blair.

Mr Livingstone declared: "The only way in which the Mayor can be successful is to build a London-wide consensus around each policy issue."

The only hint of potential tension with the Government came when he said the Mayor would have to provide some "early wins" to ensure public confidence in the new system of running London.

But the Brent East MP omitted many of his long-held policy positions from his personal manifesto. It has been sent to the Labour panel which will decide next Tuesday whether to include him on the shortlist of candidates from which the party will choose its standard-bearer in next May's mayoral election.

His statement will be seen as a typically cheeky attempt to avoid being blocked by the panel, a course favoured by some Blairites. Mr Livingstone declared that many of his criticisms of the Government's proposals for London government had now been answered by ministers. Crucially, he did not even mention his strong criticism of the Government's plans for the partial privatisation of the London Underground.

But Mr Livingstone's attempt to play the loyalist card before he is interviewed by the panel may be undermined by an article in a left-wing newspaper to be published next week.

In Campaign Group News, he describes the Government's public-private partnership for the Tube as "profoundly unpopular" and "the worst possible compromise on offer". He insists that Labour's selection process offers "a real opportunity to convince the Treasury to think again".

Mr Livingstone went on: "I am the only candidate left in the field who agrees with the 66 per cent of Londoners who think that the Tube should stay public. The policy choice couldn't be clearer."

In his personal manifesto, the former GLC leader claimed he has "an unsurpassed experience in handling the problems London faces." But his critics will accuse him of "rewriting history" over his time as the GLC boss.

His application included a quotation from Bill Bush, a former Labour adviser at the GLC who now works in Downing Street, describing Mr Livingstone as "an astonishingly good bureaucrat."

Ironically, Mr Bush is now said to be involved in gathering evidence of Mr Livingstone's past disloyalty to the Labour leadership.

Mr Livingstone has signed a statement promising to be bound by Labour's rules and accepting that the final decision about the party's candidate rests with its panel and National Executive Committee. This would not necessarily stop him running for mayor as an independent if he is blocked, though he has denied any such intention.

Projecting a "cuddly Ken" image in his application, the newt-loving MP included in his qualifications his work as trustee and former vice-president of the Zoological Society of London charity. Critics will point out that his CV showed he has not had a "real job" outside politics he became a full-time Labour councillor in 1974.

He previously spent eight years as a technician at the Royal Marsden Hospital.

The left-dominated Fire Brigades Union has decided to urge its London members to vote for Mr Livingstone to be Labour's candidate even if he is banned from the party's official shortlist.

Such a protest would mean the union's vote would be invalid. The Livingstone camp hopes other unions will follow suit.