|low graphics version | feedback | help|
|You are in: Talking Point|
Sunday, 12 March, 2000, 13:28 GMT
Is Ken right to stand?
After weeks of speculation, Ken Livingstone has announced he will stand as an independent candidate in the election for mayor of London.
Despite saying he would abide by that decision, the left-wing MP will now take on Mr Dobson and the Labour Party.
Do you think Ken Livingstone is right to stand as an independent? Would you vote for him? Do you think Frank Dobson should now stand down as Mr Livingstone has demanded - or should Mr Livingstone have accepted the ballot's result? Ken is right to stand for London Mayor. An independent candidate of real clout is what British politics needs. The rigging of the selection of the Labour candidate follows similar goings on in both Wales and Scotland and suggests that HMG either does not understand or does not really want devolution. This is a great pity as devolution to the English regions and a Federal UK is the next logical step. If Ken Livingstone can defeat the party machine he will do a service to the whole concept of devolution.
Bryan lewis, UK
While I can fully understand people wanting to punish Blair by voting for Livingstone, they'll be punishing themselves and regret it in 4 years time. I can't bring myself to vote for an undemocratically elected candidate, nor an extreme left winger. So, instead I'll be voting for Norris.
The question "Is it right for Ken to Stand?" Answer: Of course, let Londoners decide who they want to run London. Tony, get on with Governing the country, don't get involved in regional disputes. There is something appealing about having someone fighting for London that is Independent from the Government machine. I don't know why but Ken seems like the man to fight for London.
John Seely, USA
YES! Ken should definitely stand. In a political environment dominated by the Labour party's increasing cronyism and desertion of traditional Labour values, Ken represents a sorely needed challenge to New Labour establishment. The Labour Party accuse Red Ken of desertion, but I would say that he is one of the few remaining true labour politicians left. In order to function properly, parliamentary democracy requires an effective opposition... Lacking that, at least we have Ken Livingstone.
We seem to be forgetting that this is an elected post and if Ken makes a mess of it he can be voted out just as quickly as (I suspect) he will be voted in.
Mark Serlin, UK
I have been a labour supporter for as long as I can remember. However, I feel it is quite sad when Frank Dobson has to resort to personal attacks on Ken Livingston who is quite clearly very committed to the issues that affect London. The Labour Party really should move forward by focusing on the issues.
Nick E, UK
I fear the tide is beginning to turn against Ken. He's an idealist and answers questions in a very refreshingly non-politician way, but he is fatally flawed. He is Old Labour. No matter what anyone's opinion of Tony Blair may be, it is a fact that he made the party electable. Of course it's much more right-wing nowadays, and of course Ken and co feel resentful. But the British public, which is rather conservative with a small "c" anyway, will only ever vote for a safe option. Blair provided that 3 years ago. Ken doesn't now.
He may win on a protest vote (I do think people are justified in protesting against the shameful electoral college procedure), but it will not be good for London. If only the rumours were true and Mo Mowlam were replacing Frank Dobson.
I don't much care. I am heartily sick of the news media feeding on its own doorstep instead of getting out and about properly.
If, from what I remember of the GLC, the people of London are daft enough to vote for a socialist paradise, that is their business not mine.
Bob Harvey, Lincolnshire, UK
I moved to London six months ago, from Manchester, and frankly the place is in a bit of a mess. London is a separate entity, quite distinct from the rest of the country, with it's own unique problems. It took moving down here to appreciate this and I think a mayor residing in Mr Blair pocket would be infinitely more disastrous than Mr Livingstone. London needs a voice that isn't afraid to rock the boat. And that's Ken.
Idris Ahmad, London, UK
It's good that Ken has thrown a spanner in the Chairman Blair Party Machine, but I suspect his motives stem from a love of Ken Livingstone and not a love of London and its people. Standing as an independent after being defeated in an election would seem to smack of gross disloyalty and bad sportsmanship, but I don't blame him for his actions - he lost because he was up against cheats, and it's only fair that he should have a chance in an election that's not been rigged.
Also, however much of a likeable cheeky chappie he may be, he would be a financial disaster for London, as would any unreformed socialist. Anyone who cares about London AND democracy should either vote for Steve Norris or Susan 'Who?' Kramer. The two Labour (or ex-Labour) candidates only offer bankruptcy, whether financial or moral.
Ed Bayley, USA (English)
Of course he should. The mayor's responsibilities are to London's citizens not a political party, - let Londoners decide.
A prediction - Ken's lead at the moment is very high. This lead will gradually erode and slide quickly in the last weeks. The last week of campaigning will be a mad scrabble for media coverage and Ken will just scrape a victory. He will have a lacklustre administration after which he will hardly be noticed campaigning for the next election which he will lose. There will be no big Independents in the next election and the next administration will be far more effective.
James Cass, UK
Some believe Ken Livingstone to be a communist! I would not go as far as to say that, however many of his views are a bit far out to the left. If it was a far right-winger campaigning for mayor there would be a massive uproar about it, like there was in Austria. So how is someone on the far left any better?
Yes he should stand; this is supposed to be a democratic nation after all. However, why should the whole of the UK be subjected to all of this debate? What will the Mayor of London do for the rest of the country? London is very fine; but there is life outside London!
Phil W, UK
As a party member 18 years of Tory government were miserable. The party went through root and branch reform to turn itself into a party that is now electable but that doesn't mean that it's forgotten any of its old aims.
This Labour Government is really achieving a lot - plunging unemployment, 1st minimum wage, childcare places for all 3 and 4 year olds - but that message is being obscured because it's not being done Ken's way. He clearly doesn't care any more about the party or the good of this city - he just can't be trusted. I can't help feeling Ken will be a lot happier in his own one man party - no-one will be able to disagree with him then.
The people need to remind politicians from every side what democracy really is! Go Ken!
A surprising number of people from outside London - outside the UK even urging Livingstone to "go for it" from the safety of their distant towns. Whenever did a big US city vote for a high tax candidate? Yet our Atlantic cousins seem to want to foist him on us poor Londoners.
We pay high enough council taxes. I live in a Borough that remained 'Looney left' for years after the GLC was abolished. We are still paying for that legacy every day.
If you put Livingstone in charge of the cheque book his populist grandstanding will cost us dear. It's no wonder someone said "150 students at my college will vote for you" - of course they would they won't have to pay for him. Believe me his plan to bankrupt London Underground is just the start. You have been warned.
Mario Dunn, London
I no longer live in London but although I remember the days of GLC bickering I think Mr.Livingstone is the best candidate on offer. He does know London and, more importantly, he is standing as an independent.
Mayoral candidates should not be party puppets, adjusting their agenda to suit the Whitehall wranglers. They must be in a position to stand for the good of Londoners, even if this brings them into conflict not only with government but even the rest of the country.
Dave Bartlett, England
Ken Livingstone has the right to stand as an independent candidate for the Mayor of London. This situation has been created by the hierarchy of the Labour Party. I will vote for him. He is the best person out of the four contestants who has the common touch with the common man or woman of London. I think Frank Dobson should stand down. Otherwise he and his Party will be humiliated on 4 May.
T.A. Pushparajah, UK
I believe Ken is the only man for the job, Frank should stand down, and Labour should listen to the people that put them in power.
John Brines, England
Can someone PLEASE tell me why we are having a mayor in the first place? All I can figure is that it is a public-subsidised ego-trip for the winner!
Labour seems to have gone from the 'hopeful-saviours' to the 'big brother turning nanny' these days. If someone is in a political party then it should be because their beliefs coincide with the party, otherwise leave the party.
Paul Charters, England
I think that he is absolutely justified in standing. The problem with this government is that it is all for devolution as long as it can put it's own placemen in position. Blair has got to learn that devolution means that if Londoners want Ken as their mayor that he has to accept the situation and get on with it. I hope he wins as it will be triumph for democracy.
Clive Smith, United Kingdom
The decision taken by Ken Livingstone to stand as an independent is completely wrong. It will become a focal point for the renewed divisions within the Labour Party and seems to be all about the respective ego clashes between Ken and Tony.
Having just come through a terrible period of Conservative mis-management, the two camps are now busy trying to return us back to the Dark Ages as soon as possible. Find a sensible compromise.
Peter Cameron, Hong Kong
Too right he should stand, and good on him. For once we have someone in politics who is in it to make a change fir the better, who actually believes he can improve things and not for the possibility of self-aggrandisement, or financial enrichment. He really thinks he will be able to make a better city for us all to live in. His actions in the past have shown his lack of interest in material gain, give him at least the chance to show us he is right. Long live Ken!
Elizabeth Coldwell, Australia (travelling)
The choice seems obvious to me: accept electoral manipulation or stand. Of course he should stand. That ballot was a travesty.
Julia Lee, UK
Also, does anyone really care about anywhere other than London? It's the only place that matters internationally.
Jon Stone, Cambridge, UK
I have lived in London all my life (33 years) and I recall with great fondness, the years in which Ken Livingstone was head of the GLC. Ken was great for London and would make a superb mayor - I am still yet to find one bad act carried out by Mr Livingstone as head of the GLC. Margaret Thatcher couldn't stop Ken because Londoners knew he was good for London so she abolished the GLC and let democracy die in London. Now Tony Blair and the 'New Labour control freak association' are trying to stand in the way of Londoners wishes again. WE`VE HAD ENOUGH OF TONIES CRONIES. LETS NOT GET STUCK WITH ONE ONE OF BLAIRS MAYORS. Support Ken Now!
John Davis, United Kingdom
Ken's recent interview in the Face revealed him to prefer the violent rioting of anarchist groups (as seen in Seattle and London last year) to the democratic process. Either he believes in democracy or he doesn't. Which is it Ken - looting or the law?
Ben W, Islington, UK
Sometimes in political life you have to gamble, and that is what Ken is doing, because he honestly believes that is what most Londoners want him to do. The fact that he has decided to stand, of course creates a dilemma for the Labour party. Therefore in the best interest of democracy, Frank Dobson (the MP that is) should stand down, thus avoiding a split in the vote, that could let the Lib Dems in. Good luck Ken, you know more about the needs of Londoners, than all the others put together.
Derek, Ex-pat, Brazil
Well, who to vote for? Dobson is only standing because he is not Ken, Norris is standing because he is not Jeffery Archer, Ken said he would not stand and then went back on his word.... the only candidate that I am voting for is the Lib Dems Susan Kramer, because she at least has some integrity and principals.
Marc Jones, London
I seem to recall that in the Soviet Union, people were free to vote, but only for the candidates approved by the leadership. I am not from London, but I hope that the London electorate will follow the people of Wales and show the control freaks that the people will not be treated in this way. Blair and his cronies need to learn that devolution means just that. They have to accept that other people in the party and in the country have the right to express differing views. I have (until now) always voted for the Labour party. I will not be doing so at the next election unless the leadership has changed. They fail to realise that their massive majority was not won by their own PR but was lost by an increasingly incompetent and out-of-touch Tory party. They will suffer at the next election if they do not change. Ken - you won the REAL leadership election - go for it!
Paul Hopper, UK
My party right or wrong is one thing but when that party becomes unrecognisable from its previous incarnations it is time to go. Staying may be worthwhile if there was a possibility of change but Blair has set about destroying the party machinery ensuring that it can never revert back to its true roots. Blair has shown the contempt he has for ordinary party members and their opinions so it is about time ordinary members showed an equal amount of contempt for Blair by supporting Livingstone.
Catherine Goodwin, Australia
My father rang me from Wales to say "don't vote for Ken". However he has only seen the press stories about him. As I have lived in London for 22 years, I know the man a little better. He cares for London. He has my vote.
Of course Ken should stand, politics is about representing the peoples hopes and aspirations. Ken has the support of the majority of the electorate and will be best placed to put those hopes into action.
This talk of Ken being a representative for Londoners is nonsense. He is not going to help the citizens of London in any way, shape or form. He is there to make one last attempt to become politically powerful and attempt to become a celebrity throughout London and the UK.
Paul Hoyle, Lancashire
Opposing Tube privatisation is mainstream, not "loony" leftwing opinion, and is backed by the majority of Londoners. And what was so "far left" about the GLC's support for ethnic, gay and lesbian groups, or insisting that the Met are impartial as well as effective? If "far left" means "not bigoted", then I'm all for it. If Labour cannot bring itself to tolerate the popularity of moderate, committed leftwingers like Ken and Rhodri Morgan in its "broad church", it is no longer this country's single greatest progressive force.
Who went back on their word then? Mr Blair, that's who. He decided he couldn't get the result with a free electoral system so invoked that tired old Labour stand-by the union block vote. One man, one vote, yeah right. Blair's the man, his is the vote.
A M Street, Ireland
As an expatriate Londoner, I'm really enjoying the growing battle over my home-town's return to the quasi-autonomy of old! Go Ken, show the bourgies, snobs and self-righteous establishment politicos that Londoners will not be dictated to by any of them. You're making the Presidential election more mundane every day for this languishing exile!
Ray Beckingham, USA
If other spineless Labour MPs followed Ken's example and stood up for the public we might have a good Labour Government instead of this bunch of sycophants and creeps.
Ian Ward, UK
Ken should not and probably cannot defeat Tony Blair's project. What Ken forgets is that his current popularity derives from his appeal to the nostalgic wing of the Labour Movement who could not win a General Election. The choice of Labour Mayor is not a choice among individual candidates: it is a choice between people who can win elections (Blairites) and those who cannot. Ken is a good man. But he is a loser without New Labour.
Peter Doran, Northern Ireland
Mr Livingstone - there is really no polite way to say this - has lost his marbles completely. He is paving the way to a Tory victory, which would be unfortunate indeed.
Doug Thompson, Austin, Texas, USA
Talk about Ken as "splitting the Labour vote and letting Norris in" shows a complete failure to understand the rather peculiar voting system this election will have. The only way Norris could get in would be if enough people voting for other candidates gave their second vote to him. The only person who seems to be encouraging this to happen is Frank Dobson - Ken has publicly urged his voters to give their second vote to Dobson. Dobson has conspicuously refused to reciprocate. Who's the splitter?
Kevin McGrath, England
Didn't Frank Dobson say that he wouldn't run for mayor? I'm quite sure that he said he said so shortly after his 'sacking' as health secretary. Frank Dobson should stop calling Ken a liar and look back at some of his own quotes...
Emyr James, Wales
On the basis that, in this case, two wrongs probably do make a right, I would say that Ken is right to stand. Frank Dobson has been put in an embarrassing and almost indefensible position. But that might be the biggest contribution that Ken can make to this election, and he needn't have declared in order to do that - it was already done.
Although it seems unthinkable at present, his current momentum may not carry through until 4th May. He may have been better to do a Rhodri Morgan and wait on the sidelines.
Iain MacLaren, UK
Londoners have made it clear who they want for Mayor. Labour rigging the election process has only served to solidify Ken's position. Labour have chosen to treat Londoners as idiots and I'm certain they will pay the price on May 4th.
Londoner's want you - so go for it Ken!
Muhammad Masood, UK
I can't believe how many people have forgotten just what a mess London under the GLC was. Still, it will be Londoner's council taxes going to fund all those minority lobby groups again, so why should the rest of the country worry - it's subsidising Scottish students and the rest that get's under my skin.
Alf G, England
I think Ken comes out of this well. Like many politicians he has had to go back on his word, unlike most he really seems to feel bad about it and in some degree of shock about the path he has embarked on as an independent.
Ambition is a requisite for a politician, not a sin, and doesn't contradict the strong impression that Ken is man of principle. I've never been keener to assign my vote to someone - but unfortunately I'm not a Londoner!
Madir Mabbott, UK
Ken should run if only for the fact that he's not tied to any political party. The mere fact that he'd be useless as mayor wouldn't come into it. The only bonus would be to put Tony Blair and the uncharismatic Frank Dobson in their place. Why do they need a Mayor in London anyhow? Stop devoting space to London-Only issues and do something about the rest of us!!!
S Woolley, UK
Just as they did with Alun Michael here in Wales, they've tried again with Ken Livingstone. God bless him and all who sail with him. He is the people's choice and long may he reign.
Graeme Beard, Wales
Personally I am delighted that Ken is running, but I would not be so delighted if he actually won! I like the fact that the mayor could be independent of a large party machine, but I am scared that we would be held to ransom by loony left-wing policies. I do applaud him for his decision.
Alex Tatham, England
This issue is more than just about who will govern London. Once again we are seeing a successful Labour government being undermined by it's own supporters. It may well turn out that Ken Livingstone's decision to stand as an independent will make him the standard-bearer the hard left have been looking for.
By standing he is helping the hard left - the very people who made Labour unelectable and hence ensured that we had to endure many years of Tory misrule. For the Tories this could turn out to be the watershed - the time when they realised that they could get back in power simply by letting Labour self-destruct. Wake up true Labour supporters and vote for Frank Dobson.
Bill H, UK
Its about time that Blair's: "Thatcherism with a humane facade" got some competition. One can not fool all the people all the time and Blair & Co can't kill Kenny with verbal abuse and a loud voice!
Good luck Londoners! Speak for yourselves on election day! Warm wishes from a cold Norway!
Yes he should stand. He is clearly the people's choice. If the people have got it wrong then they will pay the price. It's a pity Richard Branson isn't standing. He would give Ken a run for his money.
I think that Ken Livingstone is right to stand - the whole Labour party process was wrong and didn't take into account the views of the majority. Watching Question Time last week, I was convinced that Frank Dobson is not capable of being Mayor - he had less personality than a doormat
John Lloyd, England
It must have been a very difficult decision for Ken to make, but I believe it was the right one. Since he was up against a party machine that seems intent upon determining for itself who should stand, then I don't see that he could really have done anything else. Even so, it is a courageous move.
How many of us would be willing to risk everything that we have worked for in order to ensure that true democracy will prevail?
Ron Benson, UK
Am I right in thinking the only difference that separates Ken Livingstone from Frank Dobson is the privatisation of the tube. So we have two "labour parties" not as the press would have you believe Labour party and an Independent.
Martin Rosen, UK
Livingstone has a long history of putting his own interests before those of anyone else. He has now put his own career interests before those of the party he claims to "love". If elected, just how long would it be before he would put his own interests before those of London? He cannot be trusted.
Frank Dobson and the Liberal Democrat nobody has heard of are the only untainted candidates in this race. As a Londoner, I hope my fellow Londoners will restore some dignity to this election and give these candidates the bulk of the vote, leaving Livingstone and Norris exposed for what they are: discredited has-beens.
P Large, London
I remember the fares fare campaign, London's Travelcard system wouldn't exist today without him.
Sonia Sawula, London
I'm not a Londoner and had no interest in this until now. He has to stand if only as a protest against Blair and his contempt for the principle of one member, one vote. Good luck to the bloke.
James Crosby, Shropshire, England
His track record with the GLC was appalling, as has been his behaviour recently. Cares for no one else but himself. What he is doing will probably bring us back to the bad old days, The Tories! He clearly cannot think of anyone but himself.
Livingstone's GLC was a bright spot in Thatcherite Britain and it's cheering that he's ready to take on the New Thatcherism of Blair.
Colin Danby, USA
This government and the Labour Party badly needs Ken to win to give them a 'wake-up' call. By their patronising, controlling attitude they are in great danger of alienating much of the support that got them into power. They need to get back a bit of the honest unequivocating socialism that New Labour may moderate, but will be absolutely nothing without. And yes, Ken will be a great Mayor.
John Redfern, Scotland
Why is the London mayoral campaign dominating national news? It's a London story and most of the nation doesn't care. Leave it to the evening standard and stop wasting space on global news sites like this one.
YES, absolutely. It is now time for Mr. Blair to get a little creative opposition - 'check and balance' is good for any democracy.
Michael Nielsen, Denmark
I think that Ken Livingstone is right to stand for Mayor of London. He has shown an unswerving commitment to real Labour over the years and is the ideal person to represent real London today and not the imaginary cool Britannia London the a small minority of people would like to think exists.
John Cargill, Korea
Can we have Mohammedd Al-Fayed, Prince Phillip and Neil Hamilton stand as well? This whole election circus has been great...bring on the clowns.
If Ken had won, Frank would have voted for him. I would have voted for Ken if he were the Labour candidate, but now he just seems disloyal and won't get my support.
Jim, Bermonsdey, UK
With so many comments reflecting on broken promises I think many of the above should cast their minds back a year or two under Blair's manipulative megalomania. For the first time in years, Londoners have the choice of a politician who is not a tied yes man to the party hierarchy or in the pockets of special interest groups. A true independent running for the people, and who has listened to the people. About time the ordinary citizen was listened to.
Justin, UK in US
Ken Livingstone is a true knight for the ordinary people of London. How shameful of some labour leaders to scold a man of such fine principles.
Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes. Ken should definitely stand. As a Labour supporter, the party has sought to twist and manipulate and try to control every step of the selection process. I will be voting for Ken, a vote, I believe, for democracy.
Andy Bannister, UK
Ken Livingstone is not a socialist, he is a "Kenist" At last Livingstone displays he's true colours. A man who doesn't stick to his word is not worthy of my or any other Londoners vote.
David Muir, UK
The only gainer out of this whole debacle is a one Mr Norris.
Simon Dancer, London
Ken Livingstone's track record in the running of London is patchy at best and awful at worst. Don't vote for this man because you see him as the little martyr who was beaten by 'evil' Tony. This man knew how the electoral system worked and should have accepted the result.
Jonathan Malcolm, UK
Ken for Mayor - excellent! At last, the possibility of a Mayor who will listen to what the people of the City really want. Dobson was always going to be a puppet for the Party - Ken may have views that seem radical but I believe he will truly represent what we, Londoners, want. A politician in the true sense of the word - from 'polis' = city; politician = man of the city. Broken promises? Pah!
The Labour party only made those 'promises' public to try to tie Ken to an unwritten verbal 'contract' - they always knew that they never had a chance if he wasn't on their side, and wanted to try to control him. Where's the ballot paper - I know where my vote's going!
Jim McDonnell, UK
Party politics is bad for democracy. I'm glad Ken is standing as an independent even though he still be a socialist at heart. As an ex-tory, I'll be voting for you Ken. A London mayor to represent Londoners, not a political party.
Bob Morgan, London, UK
It's a disaster for London. In the twenty years since he was last allowed out to run riot with Londoners' cheque books he has become Cuddly Ken precisely because he had no power. Let's not forget what he was like when he was in power. The Tories must be rubbing their hands together with glee. Split vote, Tory Mayor. Thanks Ken.
Three cheers for Ken Livingstone. The labour party abandoned its traditional supporters long ago. Soon, only the idiots who can't think for themselves who swallow Blair dribble will remain. Maybe they can consolidate their forces with the Tories. After all there is very little difference between all three major parties. Maybe Ken's departure will also signal a new political formation that really does care about people and not solely profit.
Steve Cohen, USA
If all the candidates agreed to abide by the results of the selection process, however flawed the system, then they should keep to their words or be seen as opportunistic and unable to keep a commitment. Glenda Jackson has, so why can't Ken?
He says he is listening to Londoners. Let him listen to his own constituency who don't want him to stand as an independent. Let him listen to the trade unions in London who are urging him not to split the party. And let him listen to the majority of labour members, who understand the concerns about a flawed system, but having selected a candidate, want to move on and campaign behind the official candidate for a Labour victory.
Riad Mannan, London, UK
Good luck to him - Ken is the only one of all the potential candidates that we have seen come and go over the last year that seems to be primarily motivated by a desire to do what's right for London, not what's right for their party or career. I may not agree with all his past political views, but I believe that he will truly try his best for the city and it's people. All the other candidates seem to have hidden agendas or ulterior motives - I wouldn't trust them with a parish council, let alone the most important city in the world.
With respect, l will be a bit concerned about Ken as the mayor of London if he cannot keep his words. If he can miscalculate on something as simple as 'election vote dribbling' what chance has London got with him as mayor on very complex issues.
A nice and decent man though, but l fear he will find the job too 'modern' and difficult.
Run Ken!! You have over 150 guaranteed votes from students in our college who will be voting in the May election!! We have all been so dismayed by the way in which Tony Blair has tried to manipulate the voting.
Tony Waters, London
Ken Livingstone is a straight talker, and that's rare these days. I'm glad he's running, and I hope he wins. I do not live in London anymore, but I will do what I can to persuade my London friends to vote for Ken. Tony Blair has shown himself to be very anti-democratic.
A man who breaks his word and then would have us believe that the people of London are making him run, is not to be trusted. He is responsible for his own actions, which are dishonourable.
Malcolm Hay, United Kingdom
Ken Livingstone is now being badgered about going back on his word. But why should he keep his word to a party that so blatantly overrides the democratic process? Would we expect anyone else to keep their word when it has been given to an overweening bully?
Linda Donnelly, UK
Go for it Ken! I must admit I was hoping he would support Susan Kramer as she seems to have the right ideas for London.
Joel Kenrick, UK
This may be a bad result for New Labour but it's a brilliant result for Londoners. We're with you Ken!
It's understandable that people resent the Labour hierarchy's undemocratic attempts to prevent Ken Livingstone from becoming mayor - but if he does become mayor, Londoners will wish they'd let Tony Blair have his way. Ken Livingstone only cares about one Londoner - Ken Livingstone. Londoners, by all means make a stand against all that nasty New Labour skulduggery by voting for Ken - and regret it at your leisure...
Paul Hicks, UK
Why couldn't the Labour party act with some sense and pick the most popular candidate. Ken clearly has the support of Londoners and has done so for months, even when names like Branson were being kicked around. Labour MPs and the leadership have done themselves a disservice by not recognising that. AS it is, at least I can now vote for Kramer and Livingston - otherwise, I would have put Norris above Dobson.
Mark Mitchell, London, UK
Perhaps there should be a referendum of the people of London asking them if they still WANT a mayor and assembly.
Ken is absolutely right in breaking away from the control of Blair's yes-men. The majority of Londoner's will vote for him because he is the people's choice. Blair has tried to stifle the road to democracy and he has failed. Nice one, Ken. Everybody's behind you.
So splitter Livingstone has let his ego get the better of him and he's carried out his threat to join the ranks of David Owen and Ramsay Macdonald. His disgraceful behaviour over the last couple of weeks vindicates the Prime Minister's decision to speak out against him becoming Labour's candidate.
It is largely thanks to the self-indulgence of people like Livingstone that I was forced to spend the whole of my childhood under Margaret Thatcher. I have no wish to re-live the 1980s and I doubt many Londoners do either. I just hope that Ken's ego doesn't mean London gets lumbered with Norris - the mayoral election has been a shambles but at least Dobbo has some interesting and relevant policies.
Paul Sceeny, UK
After the fiasco that was the Labour selection of their Mayoral candidate, I am pleased to see that Ken Livingstone has taken the courageous step of standing as an independent. After all he tried to get Labour to behave democratically, and it is not he who has left Labour, but New labour that has sold out all the people who voted for them. Ken has my vote and admiration.
Z Chaudry, UK
How can you trust a man who has lied consistently about his intentions? It's clear that he wants power at any cost, and integrity means nothing to him.
Ken has illuminated the weakness within the labour government; Tony Blair's need for control will be his undoing.
Richard Dickinson, UK
Unfortunately, I live in Belgium as an ex-pat, so won't have the chance to vote for Ken as Mayor. Even as a die-hard Tory, I would vote for this guy - he may be doing it for many reasons (self publicity, monumental lunacy or whatever) but he is doing democracy a great service by listening to the people. Mr Blair, you know what happened in Wales when you ignored the will of the masses - if I were you, Tony, I'd vote for Mr Livingstone, and do something far more important for Londoners than better services - you'd help restore their faith in democracy! Go for it, Ken, and Best Wishes!
Ken has abandoned "the party he loves" in order to further the interests of something that he loves even more - himself
Mike Every, UK
Absolutely - Blair's a control freak who wants to ensure he never has anyone who might create an embarrassing headline which doesn't fit with his "New Labour" image. Yes Ken didn't keep by his word but to accuse him of opportunism is false - he's repeatedly damaged his career by not just following the dictated line - which is lot more than you can say for most labour MPs. Poor little Toy must be livid to not have the labour party completely full of lap dogs - still I'm sure he'll solve that problem. Ken would get my vote if I was in the country....
Richard Naunder, British (living in Canada)
What marvellous news. As an ex-pat Londoner, I just hope that I will be able to vote at the UK Embassy here in Bucharest. For Steven Norris.
Craig Turp, Romania
Go Ken Go, as a Labour Party member I am sick to the back teeth of the Labour Party's controlling tendency. Their spinning has totally backfired on them. I do not agree with much of what Ken stands for but I will certainly be supporting and campaigning for ken. True democracy. Let that be a lesson Tony!
If Ken really wants to stand then it's right that he does but he certainly won't get my vote; he's broken so many promises in the past few weeks and months that it seems to me that he really only has his own ambition at heart.
John Cahill, UK
I'm glad that Ken Livingstone has finally decided to run for mayor. Politics should be about policies, not personalities. However the future Mayor of London will need a great deal of each. He or she will also need radical ideas for solutions to London's transport problems, and (with the possible exception of Darren Johnson and the Greens) no-one else seems to have a real vision for London' future, or care about it as much. Well done for deciding to stand!
Peter Barber, England
Who cares? This is a little regional (London) issue. This has already been given far too much national coverage as it is.
Ken Livingstone's decision to enter the race for London Mayor sends a signal to all those who violate democracy that it will not stand. Mr Blair and his colleagues must understand that running a government is not the same as running an electoral campaign.
As Prime Minister, Mr Blair has a duty to accept the will of both Labour Party members and the people of London. If Ken wins this race we will at last be able to embrace the politics of modern democracy and send machine politics to the scrapper. Go Ken!
Matt Berry, United Kingdom
Ken is right to stand. Labour has tried every possible dirty trick to stop him - bursting into tears and saying 'Ken broke his pledge' sounds a bit pathetic from them now. Most Labour voters will back Ken, and a lot of non-Labour ones will too.
Alastair McCapra, UK
It's about time Tory Blair woke up and realised what the people really want.
To me this sounds like being caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. One the one hand we see a Labour Puppet, and the other we see a candidate that cannot even keep his own word. How can anyone vote for labour or Ken
Andrew Heydn, UK
Would it not be a better idea to have all independent candidates? Surely this episode with the London elections raises questions about all candidates who stand representing so-called parties doing little to actually represent the people. As much as Ken is claiming to represent this and that he is not different really, he's just played himself into a position where he is against the Labour party and not necessarily against Frank Dobson.
I really feel sorry for Frank Dobson, perhaps he should stand as an independent also and detach himself from the Party machine. Also I would like to add that all these candidates basically want power, and I'm sure that there is an old saying about people who want power.
Zafar Nadeem, England
Yes he should stand - in fact he should have been the Labour party candidate. Whatever, I and my family will be voting for him.
Madonna Dissanayake, England
Thank God! Ken Livingstone is one of the few politicians in history to put his principles before party dogma. Londoners want Mr Livingstone to lead them to a better way of life and they know that he is the only person who will truly represent them in this task.
The Prime Minister has ill served the people of London by becoming so hysterically partisan and irrational in his rantings about his feelings for Mr Livingstone. He seems intent on making the same mistake for London that he made for the people of Wales. That bit of shenanigans backfired.
Rhod Windsor, UK
Put simply, Ken Livingstone's ego may well result in the Conservative candidate Steve Norris winning the election for mayor. In one swift blow, Ken has thoroughly sold the London Labour party down the river. Shame on you Ken.
I love Ken but the only real winners of splitting the Labour vote will be the Tory Party. If Ken wins it will provide them with ammunition for the next election even if he is expelled.
Mike Ivatt, England
Go on Ken! The Blairites have to be shown a lesson. They obviously didn't want Ken to stand. And they rigged it so he lost their poll. Whilst he now has to go back on his word not to stand, I believe he is right to do so, as the Labour party didn't play fair.
John McArthur, UK
Neither Ken nor the Labour Party have come well out of this. Labour rigged the ballot - Ken went back on his word. The Tories must be laughing at them now, and rightly so. I predict Norris will win.
Richard Bell, Ireland
The Labour Party do make me laugh. Ken has been a MP for the party for years, now all of a sudden they are calling him the scum of the earth. Why, if they knew this before the last general election did they not try to stop being re-elected as a Labour MP?
I wonder how many other MPs will be accused of being liars and dangerous should they dare to go against the leadership in future. We want people who speak their mind, not a bunch of "yes" people worried about a future cabinet post. Good for you Ken, go out there and show them that democracy is alive and well, in London at least....
Damon Evans, England
I'm not sure if Ken is the right man for the job or if the mayoral post will be one with real powers, but I am certain that he is desperately disappointed to leave the Labour party and really wants this job. Can the sympathy vote carry him through to election time, or will the other candidates win back the voters gifted him, by the abhorrent behaviour of his labour leaders? He'll have my vote!
Jonathan Pye, UK
Disastrous decision to stand. By his own admission Ken Livingstone has gone back on his word. How on Earth can people be expected to trust someone who so obviously breaks his word? With regard to the many comments that it is up to Londoners to choose the candidates, could I just point out that it is very much up to the Labour Party to decided who it wishes to have representing it in such a post, and that if people want to be party to that, then maybe they should join the Labour Party instead of carping from the sides.
Now Ken has decided to go independent, Londoners will have the choice to vote for him - I strongly suspect they will not do so and Ken now faces political obscurity in a similar style to Arthur Scargill.
One final point - if Ken was so keen to stand up for the rights of Londoners with no concern for his career, why has it taken him so long to decide to stand - could it be that he was weighing up his career options?
Ian Bartlett, UK
Well done Ken. An ideal opportunity to show the Blairites what one man one vote really means. And after you win I hope they'll all apologise for being such rotten hypocrites.
Richard Stimson, UK
Livingstone is absolutely correct to stand as an independent. If the ballot had not been rigged he'd be the official Labour candidate. Blair needs to be shown that principles still matter to many London and UK voters.
R Loader, UK
The Labour party has not learned from their lessons in Wales when they imposed a candidate on voters against the wishes of the party members. Ken has the issues of Londoners at heart, whereas the official Labour candidate will simply be a puppet of Central Office. We need a major who can divorce himself from the party machine and act in Londoners best interests.
Paul Williams, UK
I am a Labour supporter and salute Ken for making the right decision. Ken is the LONDONER's choice, if he did not stand I would have voted LIBERAL, I would not have supported Frank Dobson.
Bill Inwood, England
Ken has showed himself to be as two faced as the party he is leaving. They both deserve to lose.
After the circus that has been the selection process, I am left for the first time in my life wishing I lived in London (and had a vote). Ken is right to stand and Labour should have fronted him as their candidate.
Alfonse Tzeimer, UK
I do not believe in Mr. Livingstone's beliefs and policies, but he will be getting my full support in the mayorial election. Labour cannot be seen to succeed in choosing democratic process when and if it likes.
Philip Buckley-Mellor, UK
He will not win and he knows it. But faced with a bleak future in the wilderness of politics I fear Mr Livingstone cares only that his swan song receives maximum publicity, he cares not for the future of the Labour Party. I, along with most other Labour supporters, and indeed most Londoners, won't vote for Ken on May 4 because in standing as an independent he has shown he cares more for himself than for the future of the people of London.
Kate Wynne, London, UK
His record is dismal to say the best and he would be positively dangerous to this great city. I wish that Londoners had turned this whole debacle down when it was first offered. Our apathy on election day is now going to cost us dear.
Gavin Skilton, UK
I was so pleased that Ken has decided to run. We all know that Frank Dobson never wanted to be mayor in the first place and just followed what his Uncle Tony had told him to do. Ken is the one who wants to work for London. London wants Ken. Frank must see that he has no legitimacy at all and must stand aside. This is the issue that will start the decline of the Labour Government, and it is due to Tony Blair and Frank Dobson's arrogance. Good luck Ken!!!!
Mark Manaton, UK
Nice one Ken. You have shown Londoners that you care more about them than the ridiculous Labour Party. I admire your courage in this matter. You tried to let Labour see sense, but they were too stuck to their ways. Now London can show them the true error of their ways.
Tony Ford, United Kingdom
Ken is still truer to most Labour values than "New Labour" is, so why not? He has some ambition left, and personally, I would rather have an independent candidate fighting for us in London. Go Ken!
Jason Hunt, United Kingdom
Ken agreed to take part in the electoral college and should abide by its result.
I disagree with most of what Ken stands for. However, I'd still vote for him as he has been so badly treated throughout his career. Despite being democratically elected, he was sacked as Mayor by Margaret Thatcher. And now he has now been totally bulldozed by the Labour Party. On top of this, Ken obviously loves London and really desperately wants the job, unlike some of the other contenders. I think he'll probably win, too.
Christian McArdle, UK
All those who think the mayoral race has become caught up in trivia and personality issues should remember that the key questions are still being asked. Should Londoners choose their candidates? What is devolution if not the possibility of something different from central government? Should the tube be run for private profits or for the benefit of the travelling public?
Perhaps Millbank will get the message this time: stitch-ups and democracy are not compatible.
James Mackenzie, UK
As a Londoner born and bred and a committed Labour Party member, I'm shocked that Ken feels happy to betray both Londoners and the Labour Party which has stood by him through thick and thin. There'd be nothing worse for London than an independent mayor in gridlock with the Assembly - and that is precisely what would happen if Ken were ever to win. Thankfully, I believe he won't, but you don't need to look any further than his current behaviour to see that he is a splitter, an oppositionalist and a liar.
Oswin Baker, UK
This is Londoners' chance to stuff the Labour Party AND get a decent mayor. Go for it Ken!
Trev ap Simon, Netherlands
I think he's right to stand. The whole shambles of the selection process appeared so corrupt that I think he had to put himself forward as an independent. What is irritating about the whole thing thus far, is that there seems to be an implicit assumption in much of the commentary, that a labour candidate is going to win!
Why not run, the show must go on. Carry On Campaigners!!!
Go Ken! This is the only time I ever envisage wanting to be a Londoner! It will certainly make life more interesting and I hope Ken trounces the opposition and shows up the bigots in the Labour party that tried to stop him from standing! So much for democracy...it is a shame he has had to force his own hand to get a fair crack of the whip.
Good lord. A labour politician who isn't a yes man. Guess he's an ex labour politician now... Good for you Ken, even though I don't live within the voting catchment area, I fully support your bid. Are the first cracks in the labour facade starting to come through?Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
Alex Banks, Wales
Yes, he's right to stand, and I hope he wins, if only to show Blair's lot that you can't rig everything in a democracy.
Ian Walker, Germany
Like many Labour party members, I would happily have voted for any warm body the party chose to put up. Under different circumstances, I would have thought twice before backing Ken as my choice of candidate. However the past few months have been enough to ensure that Ken gets my vote for mayor.
The Labour Party has treated its own members and Londoners as a whole contemptuously. We have in effect been told that our views are misguided, our judgement is suspect, and our votes are worthless. If there is a better way of losing an election, it has yet to be thought of.
06 Mar 00 | UK Politics
Livingstone to run for mayor
17 Nov 99 | UK Politics
CV: Ken 'Red Ken' Livingstone
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Links to other Talking Point stories
|^^ Back to top
News Front Page | World | UK | UK Politics | Business | Sci/Tech | Health | Education | Entertainment | Talking Point | In Depth | AudioVideo
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy