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banner Sunday, 9 April, 2000, 11:29 GMT 12:29 UK
Livingstone warned: You'll be powerless

The candidates attack one another's weaknesses
Rivals have warned London mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone he will be powerless if he wins the contest.

Tory candidate Steve Norris says Mr Livingstone would not even be able to write a budget, because he would not have the support of any other political parties in the assembly.

The stalemate would mean London was put on hold, warned Mr Norris.

Livingstone
Mr Livingstone is warned of a stalemate
In a war of words between the four main candidates for the job, the newly-married Conservative candidate said the assembly would be totally against Mr Livingstone.

The former Labour MP is standing as an independent and is a frontrunner in opinion polls.

Mr Norris said: "In fact, Ken as mayor does nothing. The tragedy of Ken as mayor is that London goes on hold for four years and we get the downside.

"We get the controversy dark, political ideology - what we don't get is city governance because you won't even be able to set a budget, Ken. You know you can't do it.


I think there's a good chance he would make a mess of the modernisation of the tube

Frank Dobson on Ken Livingstone
"There's a blocking majority - if two-thirds of the assembly say no, thank you, Mr mayor, the assembly writes the budget."

But Mr Livingstone hit back, saying Londoners would not allow that to happen to an elected mayor. They would not look favourably on people who wrecked the system, he argued.

In the debate, on the BBC's Breakfast with Frost programme, Mr Norris said the Tories were unlikely to help Mr Livingstone, Labour would not support him and the Liberal Democrats would "float around in the middle".

kramer
Susan Kramer sees herself as a problem-fixer
Liberal Democrat candidate Susan Kramer said her party would hold the balance of power.

She said the system of governing London should not be in the headlines every day. The new mayor should fix problems, then move on.

Mr Livingstone denied there would be "mayhem" if he won. Under a system of proportional representation, all parties would help make the system work, he said.

Tube funding row

On the controversial question of the future of the London Underground, the former Labour MP - expelled from the party after standing as an independent - spelled out his plan to issue bonds to fund improvements.

He said contracts should be let with fixed terms and penalties if the companies doing the engineering work overran.

But the real problem facing London was whether the mayor would stand up for the capital, he said.

The government was taking away 800m in grants and switching it to the boroughs of cabinet ministers in the north and Scotland, he said.

dobson
Frank Dobson warns of tube modernisation costs
But there was more trouble for Mr Livingstone when former colleague, Labour candidate Frank Dobson said: "I think there's a good chance he would make a mess of the modernisation of the tube and we could end up with Londoners having to pay huge sums of money to fund his schemes."

Mr Dobson said the tube should stay in the hands of London Underground, as people wanted modernisation carried out quickly, well and safely.

He also refused to back the idea of congestion charges to deter drivers in central London during a first term in office - but said he may introduce them during a second term.

The idea of charging people on the promise of better public transport in two or three years' time was unreasonable, Mr Dobson said.

Mr Livingstone favours congestion charges, aiming to plough the 250m raised into public transport.

Candidates' strengths

Susan Kramer attacked the government's record on asylum-seekers, saying local authorities were being forced to dip into their social security budgets, leaving the elderly without home helps and other support.

Norris
Steven Norris attacks Mr Livingstone's plans
As a non-politician, but a banker, she said she would be able to bring people together, fix problems and move onto the next problem.

Mr Dobson said he was good at getting on with people, whereas Mr Livingstone was a "loner".

Mr Norris said he scored on competence, experience, commitment and credibility.

Mr Livingstone said he had drawn more support from all the main parties than each of the other candidates and would work with all parties.

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See also:

06 Apr 00 | London Mayor
In the line of fire
03 Apr 00 | UK Politics
Dobson warns tube bosses
02 Apr 00 | UK Politics
Labour expels Livingstone
30 Mar 00 | London Mayor
Livingstone promises 'gay marriages'
26 Nov 99 | London Mayor
Norris narrowly wins business poll
06 Apr 00 | London Mayor
Blair to turn out for Dobson
05 Apr 00 | London Mayor
Livingstone wins business vote
06 Apr 00 | London Mayor
Livingstone faces square mile
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