Ritual sacrifice

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It may have made a compete mess of selecting its candidate for Mayor of London, and virtually handed the governance of the capital into the hands of Ken Livingstone, but the Labour Party has shown a much surer touch now that the time has come for it to choose the official scapegoat for Mayor of London.

No sooner has Ken been crowned king than Labour MP Jim Fitzpatrick, Frank Dobson's campaign manager, is to step down as chairman of the party's London board. Naturally, we do not know the process by which Mr Fitzpatrick won this important prize, but we can guess that he must have been run pretty close by Margaret McDonagh, the party's general secretary, and of course by the candidate himself, Mr Dobson.

We will have to see whether the attempt to make Mr Fitzpatrick the fall-guy sticks. In the meantime, when we think of Mr Blair's cack-handed attempts to "stop Ken", we are reminded of a famous quip: "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his friends for his life."

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