Tory in second bid to stand for London mayor

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Conservative backbencher John Wilkinson today announced that he is to make a second bid to become the party's candidate for London Mayor.

Conservative backbencher John Wilkinson today announced that he is to make a second bid to become the party's candidate for London Mayor.

The Ruislip Northwood MP failed to make the shortlist in the previous contest, which saw Lord Archer chosen as the Tories' candidate.

But following the peer's withdrawal in the wake of the revelation that he asked a friend to fabricate an alibi in connection with his 1987 libel trial, and the consequent rerunning of the Conservative selection procedure, Mr Wilkinson said he hoped to do better second time around.

Speaking at Westminster, Mr Wilkinson said: "I want to do better, I want to win."

Mr Wilkinson, who has represented his current constituency since 1979 and was MP for Bradford West from 1970 to February 1974, said he could offer stamina and experience - qualities which represented a marked contrast to those of the previous Tory candidate.

"It's not a question of finding a high profile name with a lot of baggage of banner headlines behind him or her, we want someone who is going to do a decent, good, responsible job for London," said Mr Wilkinson.

"We have had too many stories of sleaze and alleged malpractice around our necks in the past.

"We have to get our act together and prove that we are a credible party doing a good job of work from the bottom upwards."

On the London Underground, Mr Wilkinson said he favoured a "Londoner's Tube", with the network essentially sold to a range of private sector companies which could modernise it, and a share issue, with preferential shares for commuters and Underground workers.

He said he was concerned about suggestions that the successful Tory candidate will have to pay the cost of the election process from their own campaign fighting fund.

"I'm not keen on that ... We need all our resources, financial, intellectual, and of heart to defeat Labour and the Liberals when the final election comes. So I hope the party will think again on this," he said.

The idea that the successful candidate should pick up Lord Archer's costs was "ludicrous", he said.

Other Tories who have put their names forward include former Lambeth Conservative group leader Bernard Gentry, and Baroness Miller, the Tory frontbench spokesman on Greater London in the House of Lords.

Mr Wilkinson is the first Tory MP to put his name forward.

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