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London Referendum Tuesday, 28 April, 1998, 11:46 GMT 12:46 UK
Londoners snub politicians for mayor
Politicians have been outperformed by Virgin boss Richard Branson as the capital's preferred choice for mayor, according to a poll carried out by NOP for the London Evening Standard newspaper.

NOP asked 1,000 voters whether they would vote for certain people if they were their party's official candidate.

Some 66% said they probably or definitely would vote for Mr Branson as an Independent, despite the fact that he has not expressed an interest in standing.

In second place, on 55%, came left-wing Labour MP and former leader of the Greater London Council Ken Livingstone.

Mr Livingstone was followed by Transport Minister Glenda Jackson on 47%, Culture Secretary Chris Smith and Sports Minister Tony Banks on 34%, and Health Secretary Frank Dobson on 30%.

Bad news for Tory candidates

Mr Branson also performed best in that only 30% of those questioned indicated that they probably or definitely would not vote for him. Second by this criterion was Mr Livingstone with 41%.

The poll also suggests bad news for the Conservatives as 53% of those polled said they would definitely not vote for the most high profile potential Conservative mayor, the former party chairman, Lord Archer.

The poll did not contain any Liberal Democrat candidates.

'Let Livingstone stand'

Unlike the Conservatives Labour has not yet decided how its candidates for mayor will be selected but 74% of those polled believed Labour would be "wrong" to attempt to block Mr Livingstone from standing.

William Hague
Hague: let the members decide
The Conservative leader William Hague has pledged that the final decision on the party's candidate will remain with party members who will vote for their candidate in a secret ballot.

Labour, meanwhile, has not ruled out presenting party members with an approved list from which to select candidates.

This has raised concerns among some members that they will not be able to select mayoral candidates from a full list. A campaign to secure a one-member, one-vote selection process by Labour Party members in London has been launched.

The government's referendum on a London mayor takes place on May 7. If there is a 'Yes' vote, London could have a new chief executive by the Millennium.

Links to more London Referendum stories are at the foot of the page.


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