The Rail Dispute: Livingstone out of Labour race: Prescott backs rail workers' union and deplores Government's intervention over pay

KEN LIVINGSTONE, the left- winger, pulled out of the Labour leadership race yesterday in a move that will guarantee that Margaret Beckett, the acting leader, garners the 34 MPs' nominations needed to stand.

Another of the leadership contenders, John Prescott, Labour's employment spokesman, became the first to implicitly back the industrial action by the rail workers.

Gordon Brown, the shadow Chancellor and close ally of Tony Blair, the 'modernising' favourite, was preparing to submit a nomination backing Mrs Beckett for the deputy leadership.

While Mr Blair's camp insisted that the shadow Home Secretary was 'scrupulously neutral' on the question of his deputy, Mr Brown's move will be taken as a sign that party modernisers would be happier if Mrs Beckett kept her former job as deputy leader rather than see it go to Mr Prescott.

As Mr Prescott declared that the necessary nominations for his leadership and deputy challenges were 'in the bag', Mr Livingstone conceded he would not attract enough support.

There was little doubt that Mrs Beckett would get sufficient backing for the deputy leadership contest when nominations close at 4pm today.

Mr Livingstone could have attracted the support of up to 20 of the 26-strong socialist Campaign group of MPs for the leadership, splitting the support of the left. He hopes that these will now back Mrs Beckett.

In the first declared constituency ballot, Leicester East Labour Party voted overwhelmingly for Mr Blair as new leader, Keith Vaz, the constituency MP, said. Support for Mr Blair was 69.6 per cent, with 21.34 per cent for Mr Prescott and 6.7 per cent for Mrs Beckett.

But the positions of Mr Prescott and Mrs Beckett were markedly reversed for the deputy leadership, with Mrs Beckett securing 68.5 per cent and Mr Prescott 30.3.

Mr Blair has attracted the public support of more than half the Parliamentary Labour Party.

David Hunt, Secretary of State for Employment, said the action by rail workers was 'a reminder of the politics of the past'.

Mr Prescott, however, told a Westminster news conference: 'I am sorry there's a strike. . . but I deplore the intervention of the Government. These are employees who have not been constantly in dispute. This Government has been preventing negotiation between the parties.'

Mr Livingstone's decision caused anger among some Campaign group members, who later decided not to back any candidate.

However, the maverick anti- Maastricht MP, Denzil Davies, indicated that he would continue fighting for nominations until the bitter end. The former Treasury minister and MP for Llanelli is not expected to attract more than a handful.

Another left-winger, Tony Benn, also weighed in with an accusation in the Tribune newspaper that the Shadow Cabinet was too negative.

The Commons Select Committee on employment will take evidence on the rail strike next month.

Leading article, page 17

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
News
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British author Howard Jacobson has been long-listed for the Man Booker Prize
books
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Systems Analyst (Technical, UML, UI)

£30000 - £40000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Cost Reporting-MI Packs-Edinburgh-Bank-£350/day

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Cost Reporting Manager - MI Packs -...

Senior Private Client Solicitor - Gloucestershire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - We are makin...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Support Developer

£50000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A unique and rare opport...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn