Norris attacks UKIP and predicts a 'wipe-out' for Labour in the capital

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Steve Norris yesterday branded the United Kingdom Independence Party as "xenophobic and negative" as he urged voters of all political complexions to vote for him to deal a blow to Tony Blair.

Steve Norris yesterday branded the United Kingdom Independence Party as "xenophobic and negative" as he urged voters of all political complexions to vote for him to deal a blow to Tony Blair.

The Tory candidate for mayor of London said Ken Livingstone's standing in the capital was not "enough to protect him" from the anger towards Tony Blair and the Labour government.

He predicted that Labour was facing a "wipe out" in the London Assembly as voters used the election as a referendum on Blair's leadership as well as Ken Livingstone's record.

"What is playing out on the doorstep is a very strong sense of 'get them out'. It's probably in the order of first Labour and then Livingstone. Livingstone is much less popular than journalists seem to think," he said. "There are whole swathes of London where Livingstone is a dirty word."

In an interview with The Independent, Mr Norris said the overwhelming message of the campaign was "the negativity about Labour and Livingstone".

"The Livingstone brand is probably a better brand than Labour. But it isn't powerful enough to protect him," he said.

Mr Norris denied he was deliberately distancing himself from Michael Howard but he said he would not take orders from the Tory leader if elected.

"This is not in any way to be disloyal to my party's leadership but if you want to elect Michael Howard elect Michael Howard but if you want someone who will do the job for London then I am your man," he said. "I ... want to be a Mayor for every Londoner but I am not here prosecuting a particular political agenda and never was."

He denied that the surge of support for UKIP would rob him of votes.

"UKIP won't be affecting my vote at all because people recognise this is about electing an independent-minded individual who doesn't take his line from a political party," he said.

Yesterday Mr Norris's campaign was dealt a blow when relatives of the Potters Bar rail crash urged Londoners not to vote for him because he is the chairman of Jarvis, the engineering firm linked to the tragedy. Jarvis has admitted liability for compensation but not for the crash.

"I understand how they feel," he said. "It was an awful tragedy and I understand completely why they say what they say."

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