More than 19 years after he last took control of London's government, Ken Livingstone will take up the office of mayor today with a raft of powers beyond his wildest dreams at the Greater London Council.
With an annual budget of £3.8bn, wide powers of patronage and control over transport, police and economic development, the maverick MP will have an all-consuming influence on the capital.
But his personal mandate of more than one million voters will also allow Mr Livingstone to seize the national headlines in a way guaranteed to infuriate Tony Blair.
The Livingstone camp has spent the past few days engaged in frenetic horsetrading as it hammered out exactly who would get which job in the mayor's new administration.
First on his list today will be the 12 appointments to his "kitchen cabinet", a body of 10 policy experts and two political advisers that allows the mayor to draw up his strategy for the next four years. It is understood he will appoint Darren Johnson, the Green Party's mayoral candidate and number one on its party list for the Greater London Assembly, as his deputy mayor.
Mr Livingstone is expected to appoint himself chair of the powerful new Transport for London organisation that will inherit the running of the Tube and bus network from London Transport. Among his first tasks on TfL will be deciding how to cope with the Government's plans for a public-private partnership for the Tube, plans he has spent the last year opposing vigorously.
The mayor will also have the power to appoint 12 members of the Metropolitan Police Authority, all of whom have to come from the Greater London Assembly. Seven members of the MPA will be independents and although Jack Straw has the power of veto over their appointment, Mr Livingstone will be hoping that his ally Lee Jasper, a black activist, will be appointed.
Dealing with the 25-member GLA will also be high on Mr Livingstone's list of priorities and he will be putting out feelers to all the parties to assess which of them would agree to from part of his administration.
The Brent East MP said early this morning that he wanted a "broad-based" administration and has offered key roles to Frank Dobson, as poverty tsar for the capital and to Steve Norris and Susan Kramer as transport advisers.
His defeated rivals are unlikely to take up such posts, but other members of the Assembly will be tempted by the prospect of powerful roles within the new authority.
Relations with the Labour group, expected to be the biggest in the Assembly, will be crucial, although the two Green members will work in a Red-Green alliance with Mr Livingstone.
He will also have to appoint the chairman of the new London Development Agency, a task that could prove difficult if leading business figures refuse to be associated with the Livingstone style of governance.Reuse content