Tory Party Conference: London Mayor

Archer axes plans to discredit rival
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Indy Politics

SECRET TORY party plans to scupper Ken Livingstone's bid to be mayor of London by linking him with the IRA have been vetoed by Jeffrey Archer.

SECRET TORY party plans to scupper Ken Livingstone's bid to be mayor of London by linking him with the IRA have been vetoed by Jeffrey Archer.

Researchers at Conservative Central Office have prepared a detailed dossier on the former Greater London Council leader's contacts with Irish republicans in the early 1980s. Tory insiders hoped to use the dossier to plant stories in the press and eventually run advertisements attacking Mr Livingstone's record on terrorism.

The attack on his links with Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness was seen as the best means of ruining the Brent East MP's chances of winning the mayoral election in May.

But Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare has now issued firm instructions that he will not run any negative campaigns against Mr Livingstone or any other candidate. His official spokesman said last night: "We will not fight a negative campaign, it's just not Jeffrey's style. We will win this election fair and square."

The secret dossier on Mr Livingstone includes detailed evidence he gave in defence of an escaped IRA prisoner in a San Francisco court in 1993. The MP embarrassed the Labour leadership when he travelled to America to object to the extradition of Jimmy Smyth, a convicted terrorist who led a mass breakout from the Maze prison near Belfast in 1983.

Mr Livingstone, who has long taken an interest in Northern Ireland, has repeatedly defended his decision to invite Sinn Fein to speak in London and has pointed out that talking to the republicans is now official government policy.

In his first speech as official Conservative candidate at the party conference in Blackpool yesterday, Lord Archer received a rapturous reception. He warned companies, in his most important pledge that, if he became mayor, he would not sign up to the Government's public-private partnership for the London Underground.

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