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banner Friday, 14 April, 2000, 17:05 GMT 18:05 UK
Polls latest: Livingstone still ahead, Dobson third

The latest London mayoral opinion poll, published on 13 April, is bad news for Labour's Frank Dobson.

While Ken Livingstone still appears to be the frontrunner by a large margin, his support has slipped to 49% - while Dobson has been pushed into third place behind Tory Steve Norris.

The poll indicates that Norris, with 16%, is running second to Livingstone; Dobson is on 15%; and Liberal Democrat Susan Kramer has gained four points, bringing her up to 12%.

Although Darren Johnson - the Green candidate - takes just 4%, ICM predicts that his party will win two seats in the Greater London Assembly. Since he is also top of his party's list for the GLA top-up seats, Johnson would be in the GLA.

Labour is forecast to take 12 seats, which would leave the party one short of a majority in the 25-seat body.

Despite the drop in support for Livingstone, it follows what was seen by commentators as an unsustainable high - 68% at one stage. The Brent East MP remains in an extremely strong position as the fall in his rating is being spread among his rivals, leaving no clear challenger - and the Brent East MP still more than 30 points ahead of his nearest rival.

In the previous poll for the London Evening Standard, published in March, Livingstone took 61%.

Around a third of those interviewed for the April survey of 1,005 people were quizzed after it was announced that Mr Livingstone had fallen foul of parliamentary rules on declaring his earnings outside Parliament.

Their results on Mr Livingstone's trustworthiness showed little difference from the rest of those polled with the Brent East MP considered honest by 62%, and dishonest by 18%.

Consistent lead

The first opinion poll conducted after Mr Livingstone's declaration to stand at the beginning of March by the Guardian/ICM, suggested he would poll 68% of the vote, leaving Mr Dobson on 13%.

The survey of 1,003 adults across London also suggested, Mr Livingstone would receive the support of 75% of Labour voters, 70% of Liberal Democrat supporters and 48% of Conservative voters - far higher than support for their official candidates.

This reflects the finding of a poll, also carried out by ICM, for London's Evening Standard newspaper after the Labour selection result was declared in February.

Carried out immediately after the announcement of Labour's candidate, 61% of those questioned said Mr Livingstone should go it alone while 22% said he should accept the result.

When asked who they would back in a four-way race, 50% of Londoners choose Mr Livingstone, while only 22% favoured Mr Dobson.

Tory candidate Steve Norris came third with 15% and Liberal Democrat Susan Kramer took just 8%.

Although the poll was carried out in the aftermath of the Labour contest, for the Dobson campaign it was worryingly similar to polls carried out along the same lines last autumn.

Another ICM poll conducted for the Guardian had an independent Livingstone running on 43% with Dobson trailing on 23%.

Statistics giving the Brent East MP a significant lead date back to last October, shortly after Mr Dobson entered the race.

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