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Friday, 25 February, 2000, 16:00 GMT
Should Ken run?
Labour leftwinger Ken Livingstone has been narrowly defeated in the race to be Labour's candidate for the London mayoral election in May.
But while the prime minister's preferred candidate Frank Dobson narrowly scraped home, Mr Livingstone has called for him to stand down in the interests of the party and London.
Since the result, Mr Livingstone has not ruled out running as an independent candidate - even though he previously said he would not run against the Labour party.
But after the defeat, he labelled the vote "tainted" - leaving the way open for a possible challenge.
Should Ken Livingstone run as an independent candidate?
What does this result say about the Labour Party? Do you agree with allegations that Tony Blair is guilty of "control freakery" and is failing to let devolution take its natural course? Or was the contest free and fair?
Do you see similarities with events in the Welsh Assembly where Mr Blair's man Alun Michael was forced to resign - or is this just mischief-making by the government's opponents? Your Reaction
Run, run, Kenneth, Tony thinks he's running this town,
If you get in first,
you can make him wear a frown,
Run, run, Kenneth,
We want you to wear the crown!
(After Chuck Berry, "Run Run Rudolph")
The arrogance of the Labour Party is one thing, but voting like sheep is another. If Ken doesn't stand it's not the end of the world for two reasons:
1) His track record as an administrator is poor and unrepresentative of his constituents.
2) There are other candidates apart from Dobson. I shall be voting for the Liberal Democrat Susan Kramer who clearly has the best track record. I want a mayor running London, not a has-been celebrity.
Tim Saunders, UK
I think it is pointless now to discuss whether the Labour candidate selection was fair or not. I do think what can still be discussed is Blair's insistence on maintaining absolute control over Labour Party politics. Blair may be the leader, but Blair has forgotten that a leader must represent the interests of his followers as well as guide them.
Should Ken Livingstone run? Why not? It is a question of the people of London accepting or rejecting Tony Blair's vision of the labour politics. If they share his fear of the loony left, then they will choose Dobson for the same reasons he did. If they don't, then we will have seen a perfect example of democracy in action. After all in theory democracy is all about the competition of various political doctrines for the acceptance of the public.
David S., USA
London is being treated as a cash cow by the government. Taxes paid by Londoners are 30 billion pounds more than government spending on London. All this money goes to subsidising Scotland and Wales. Not a penny is spent on improving the London Underground, which leads to a situation were conditions on the London Underground for human beings during the rush hour are probably worse then those of livestock being exported to the continent. In this situation London needs a mayor who stands up for London and not a mayor who just represents Whitehall to Londoners. I will support anyone who can beat Frank Dobson, and Ken Livingstone looks like the best bet to do it.
Peter van Woerden, UK
As a non-Labour supporter all I can say to Tony Blair is thanks. If he keeps this up i.e. fixing ballots to get is own person in the that the people don't want then I no longer have to worry about William Hague as a leader. And even though I don't support Labour I'd say to Ken Livingstone that he should stand as an independent because his heart is for London and the best he can do for Londoners which is all you can ask for in a Mayor.
If Ken is a man of his word ... he should support Frank Dobson. Whatever the imperfections of the system used, he agreed to abide by the result knowing what the selection method was. The only gainer from Ken standing as an independent will be William Hague and the Tories, who have always despised London, democratic government and the losers will be the people of London who may be saddled with a Conservative mayor in hock to the car and lorry lobby who will give no priority to social inclusion - bridging the gap between London's haves and have nots. Ken would do himself and London great favours by showing he is someone of integrity and principle. Don't do it, Ken.
David L Gardner, UK
Ken will not be standing as an independent. He clearly has the largest support amongst Labour Party members - even with the whole selection system purposefully designed to bar his candidacy, he only lost by a narrow margin. If the rank and file (i.e. the majority which Blair and co choose to disregard in their arrogance) support Ken, to my mind that makes him the Labour candidate, official or not. Blair's despotism and control-freakery has created a break-away party. A party without popular support is simply a group of ambitious but impotent individuals.
Ken should run. Ordinary Labour party members are fed up with having their views ignored. It is remarkable indeed that the leadership has learnt nothing from the recent debacle in Wales. Ask Alun Michael what happens when the leadership uses essentially undemocratic methods to impose its will. Uniform rules on balloting Trade Union members should be in place if the party is to use the Electoral College system again. Many of us have argued for one-member-one-vote for years. Time for Mr. Dobson to do the decent thing.
Rob Davies, Sri Lanka and UK
I have followed The London Mayor Campaign since fall of 1999.I was disappointed to read that Ken Livingstone lost by a narrow margin, he is clearly the right choice for Mayor of London. Ken should run as an independent, so that Londoners may vote to put the right man where he belongs. You go for it Ken, London deserves the best.
I remember a fringe meeting at the Labour party conference in Brighton in 1997. Gordon Brown made an impassioned speech about international finance and debt relief for the third world, Tony Banks made his famous 'foetus' remark about W. Hague, and Robin Cook also contributed some dry and funny wit about the disarray in the Tory party. Everybody was in a good mood and roared the 'Red Flag' at the end of the evening. Labour had been in government for 6 months, and we all felt great and empowered. Two years and a bit later, I cannot believe what has happened since. Several of New Labour's 'unthinkable' policies as well as their (New) Stalinist Mind-Control-Regime make me want to puke... Ken, please, stand as an Independent and bring some sanity back to this world!
Chris Habeck, USA
It's not for me to say. Running as an independent will carry some risks, but the question should really be who should be the mayor. The people of London can decide to elect Ken Livingstone or not to elect him.
It should be remembered that half of what was regarded as "loony leftism" in the 1980's GLC days is now accepted as just sensible aware policies, the other half was just a reaction of the right-wing press at the time. In short if Ken stood I would vote for him. I would not vote for a candidate who has no credibility in the face of the public. (It is they who vote in the end, not the Labour Party)
Tony, London, UK
Although no longer an elector I do hope that Mr. Livingstone will stand for election independently. Most of us now accept that everybody should have equal access, treatment and opportunities regardless of disability, race, religion or sexuality. Sad that Mr. Livingstone should have to leave the party but then "Blair's Own - New Labour" bears no resemblance to the Labour Movement which he joined. Mr. Blair's public and blatant attempts to subvert the democratic process are scandalous and bring shame on UK politics. Little wonder that Herr Haider admires him so.
Mary, NL/ Ex-pat. Londoner.
Ken has an ego? Well that's a new trait for a politician! As a simple stand against an increasingly anti-democratic party leadership, Ken should run for mayor. But the real point is that millions of Londoners want the chance to vote for him. Why should the fact that Tony Blair doesn't want him to stop us?
Rob Stevens, London, UK
The present Labour leadership is exhibiting the same characteristics that the Major government did before they lost the last election. The lying arrogance on display during Despatch Box is one the many shots this government is giving itself in the feet.
Laurent Galea, UK
Ken has been royally stitched up, for all to see. Any accusations that he is "dishonourable" are ludicrous, as it is his LOYALTY they used to get him to accept this absurd situation in the first place! No, this is an insult to all Londoner's that we do not know our own minds, and that "Tony's choice" is the only one. Go for it Ken. I remember the GLC, and for its faults, we really missed its vision, when it was stolen from us...
Whilst I could never agree with Mr Livingstone's politics I feel that after all the dirty tricks his own party have played to keep him out, he most certainly should run, and were I a voter for the London mayor he would get my vote as the only real representative of Londoners.
David May, United Kingdom
The point that Mr Livingstone agreed not to stand as an independent is surely irrelevant when corrupt and deceitful tactics have been used to deprive him of victory. Nobody can be bound by promises made in radically different circumstances.
Hugh Bridge, UK
Of course he should stand as an Independent, after being stitched up by the dubious voting system he has no other way because he has to show that the people should run the country and not the "clique" at the so called top of the Labour Party.
David Price, France (formerly Wales)
I'm a lifelong Labour supporter who backs Ken Livingstone and am disgusted by the antics of the current leadership. But I hesitate when it comes to saying Livingstone should stand as an independent. The Labour Movement is bigger than the current set of horrible little people represented in the leadership. Ken Livingstone shows no sign of being at odds with the party; it is the leadership that has split. Rhodri Morgan is still in Labour and look where he is now. Hold out, Ken.
James Leith, England
Yes, the electoral college was a fix but Ken agreed to abide by the rules and support whichever candidate won (as long as the winner was called Ken, loved newts, and spent his Parliamentary time in expensive restaurants writing newspaper reviews). It's no good Ken complaining now. If Ken stands as an independent candidate, we might as well just hand Steve Norris the mayoral chain now!
Craig Turton, England
Ken Livingstone would be doing, not only London but the whole of the UK, a favour if he stood as a candidate for Mayor of London. Democracy must be seen to be done.
Stephen Watkins, Wales
How can anyone support a candidate who campaigned against the introduction of a directly-elected mayor and who has publicly stated that they want to see the office abolished in years hence? Ken should have the magnanimity to accept the result.
Andrew Stevens, England
Agree with someone else's comments, Blair needs a lesson in democracy. Ken, with the support of Londoners, seems to be the best way of doing this. If Blair learns a lesson now it will save him, and Labour, more grief in the long term.
I think it is absolutely deplorable what the labour party have done to Ken Livingstone and democracy. It will come back to haunt them. They will forever be accused as the vote-riggers. I don't think Ken should go Independent. He would be better advised to stick to his word. He can now sit back for a while and watch the walls start to fall down around Tony Blair and then hopefully he can step in and clean up all the mess.
Philip Baines, UK
I'm a Union Member in London, I helped elect a Labour MP and MEP but, nobody has asked me who I want to stand for Mayor in London! I want Ken to stand as we want a high profile personality who will fight London's corner. And if Ken doesn't stand; I will just have to write his name on the ballot paper myself! PLEASE KEN YOU MUST STAND!
Ray, London. UK
Tony Blair has made a serious error of judgement. Whether Ken stands now or not, Tony Blair has demonstrated that he does not care what people want or think, but instead insists that we all do things his way. Stand, Ken, and show people that democracy is alive and kicking.
The best choice for London mayor will be someone who is independent of the main political parties - if Ken Livingstone stands he would be able to exercise this independence
Edward Newton, UK
Forget standing as an independent immediately - forcing Ken Livingstone out of the Labour Party would only please Millbank and the SWP. Ken should challenge the stitch-up in the courts (honestly, should retired MEP's living in Sheffield be allowed to overrule thousands of party members). The legal challenge, plus the efforts of the Lords to ensure access to the electorate might encourage the Millbank Tendency to think again. If and only if that fails, Ken, the Left and the Greens should consider co-operation over the mayoral election and the assembly.
James M., Scotland
The behaviour of the Party leadership has been atrocious. New Labour is certainly running scared. Ken running as an Independent would be a quick fix for the frustrated left...But where next after that? The rule would be 'if you disagree with Tony then you should leave the Party'. I am worried that the precedent would splinter the broad left and centre-left unity of those involved with the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy.
Neil Foster, England
I find the "teach Blair a lesson" comments here very worrying. This is your life he's playing with. This is a man who cares not a damn about London, just whether he can pull the strings there. A man who has dissolved the House of Lords for being an un-elected dinosaur, and now plans to have it replaced with a house where the government decides the majority of the members (read: "House of Labour"). This man has decided, through the most shoe-horned measures, that you are WRONG to want Livingstone as mayor, he is telling you that he knows better, and that Dobson is the solution. Who does this man work for anyway?
Matt, Netherlands (ex. UK)
Ken should run as an independent to save real democracy in United Kingdom. At present I believe the Labour government (party) is setting a dangerous precedent to other democracies in the world, particularly to the developing world where the votes of the minority will be considered to be superior to the Majority. Labour party is a shame to all its supporters today. Ken should not rely on the party that has let democracy down. Ken should RUN.
Abdi Duale, United kingdom
Ken is the people's choice, of course he should stand. After the shameful behaviour of the Labour Party leadership I for one have vowed never to vote Labour again. Its about time we got to vote for individuals based on their character and beliefs rather than the puppets of a party political machine. Forget new Labour, this is new Politics.
Louise Trewavas, UK
Al of Greece - how can you say that Ken was a disaster for London? Cheap, clean public transport. Clean streets. A lower level of crime. The first council to promote genuine equality. Also a real alternative to that batty woman and her bunch of nutters over the other side of the river.
Dave Hartley, Stourbridge, England
As the (Labor) Mayor of Waverley in Australia, I found the sorting of the ballot to achieve a result which clearly is not supported by the Labour Party nor the Unions in London an outrageous denial of democratic process. Ken and the GLC had the guts to take on the Thatcher govt. whilst the parliamentary party was impotent. Surely Blair and his cronies recognise that a person who is able to gather such a level of popular support is an asset to the Party- or perhaps the fact that Ken reminds Blair of what the Labour Party really should be is the problem. From a comrade in Australia: Ken, go for it!
Cr. Paul Pearce, Sydney, Australia
I am so disgusted at the 'tonymandering' that has gone on in this contest for mayoral candidate that, although a life-long labour supporter, I am very doubtful that I could bring myself to vote for Tony Blair next time.
Tessa Lewis, England
Three simple words: "WE WANT KEN!"
Zoe, Notting Hill, London
In the US, most primaries are simple votes by party members. Some are even "open", meaning that members of other parties can also vote. The reasoning behind this is simple: since the chosen candidate will have to face the voters sooner or later, it is better to have a primary system that indicates which of the candidates is more electable. A system like Blair's which really measures how much each candidate is favoured by senior party officials, is interesting in its way, but it is in the end irrelevant to an election in which the public will vote. We didn't need this primary to tell us that Blair likes one candidate, and dislikes the other. We already knew that, and he didn't have to hold a bogus "election" to emphasise the point.
Jon Livesey, USA
Labour party members should stop and wonder why the Conservative press largely supports Livingstone. It is quite obviously because they relish the idea of Ken building a power base in the party to challenge Blair, which would be likely to take Labour out of government for a generation.
Although I have tremendous respect for Ken Livingstone and am unhappy at the way in which he has been treated by the Labour Party, he knew the form of the electoral system and he did declare himself willing to accept the final result. It is unreasonable for him to turn round now and stand as an independent simply because he didn't win.
Nick Graham, United Kingdom
Livingstone is right to feel "robbed" by the Labour selection process - Blair's control freak tactics are one of the key areas in which his public support, once so strong, is being rapidly and devastatingly eroded. As in Wales, so in London. A culture of control and spin (e.g. the Dewar Spin Scandal) may have short-term benefits, but does not breed long term trust
Hugh More, Scotland
Ken should run quite simply because a large number of Londoners want him as their candidate. I am a Liberal Democrat, and there is no doubt that Susan Kramer will benefit immeasurably from Ken not being in the race - but at the end of the day I do not want to be stuck with a choice between Dobson and Norris.
Mark Mitchell, London, UK
Ken pledged to abide by the rules of the system he ran under. To start complaining now that he's lost, and in such a childish manner, show that he would be just the wrong sort of person to be Chief Executive of London. It also shows how arrogant and how big his ego is to 'assume' he would win under any system. His views would damage London and the economy. If he has any principle he will back the winner, Frank Dobson, who can hardly be called anyone's 'poodle'.
Tom, Cardiff, UK
Red Ken should stand as the "Labour Party" candidate. After all, Blair's thugs are "New Labour". I am sorry for Dobson but if he associates with dirt he must expect to find his hands soiled.
David de Vere Webb, UK
Dobson wins and Tony Blair gets his way yet again. It is tragic to see how the Labour leadership time and again are riding roughshod over true democracy. Let's see Alastair Campbell and pals spin their way out of this one.
Kevin Peacock, England
Ken is a man of conviction and beliefs. However, he lost the contest. The Electoral College is a strong element to internal Labour democracy and to suggest it, as 'North Korean' as Mr Norris did is plain fantasy. For Ken to suggest the result has been 'fixed' is an insult to the party he professes to love. He must get behind the official Labour candidate. He must stop whining. A 'sour grapes' independent campaign may aid his ego [and the Conservatives] but not his own party. (And as for criticising Dobson for not being a Londoner because he wasn't born here, many people who consider themselves Londoners - myself included - weren't born here but chose to move here, to set up our lives here and would not wish to live anywhere else. We are all Londoners - which is what makes this the best city in the world).
Matt, North London
Go for it Ken! "Real" Londoners and the nation's foxes will thank you for it. Have Glenda as your deputy and then, once you've won, get the tubes to run!
Ken needs to run for Mayor for one simple reason - both Dobson and Norris support the privatisation of the Underground to some extent and there needs to be a major candidate in this election who will fight for the Tube to remain a public service, run for the benefit of the whole of the population of London, not just the shareholders and directors of various large companies.
The position of Mayor of London is unlike any other position in British politics and electing an independent Mayor would show that there is life in politics outside of the parties. An independent Mayor would be able to speak honestly for London and not have to worry about where national party policy conflicts with the needs of the city.
Nick Barlow, England
Livingstone must stand as an independent. London needs a socialist mayor. Blair claims to love democracy, but as soon as it gets in his way he kicks it in the face. Every democratic section of the electoral college voted overwhelmingly for Livingstone.
If he doesn't stand the London Socialist Alliance must put forward a candidate. All of the New Labour GLA candidates are in bed with the rich. We must vote to get as many LSA candidates in the GLA as possible to represent ordinary working Londoners.
David Isaacson, England
Of course Ken shouldn't run. The argument is absurd. It may have been close but he lost. He may be complaining about the method, but it's basically that pushed through by the Bennite left 20 years ago - an electoral college. I'm appalled at the lack of grace Ken has shown, though it does reveal the enormity of his ego, which - it is clear - cannot be separated from his politics.
Tony Miller, UK
Definitely - Its extremely sad that the opinion of Londoners and Labour Party Members counted for nothing in the recent Labour Party vote. Ken have the courage of your convictions and stand!
Claire, London, UK
Not living in London, I have to admit that I really no longer care who runs. The whole discussion is as relevant to me as whether Hilary runs for mayor of New York.
My only question about the whole affair was why is the post being created for party lackeys anyway? Surely the best interests of the city would be served by a party neutral candidate.
The only way that the public and Ken Livingstone will ever know if the ballot was fair or not is if he stands as an independent. Once the election result has come in and Londoners have voted it will put this issue to bed once and for all.
No, he should not run. Let us hope that Dobson gets defeated without Livingstone interfering. It is more important that Tony Blair should learn some humility.
Alan Camina, UK
I'm a Londoner and would support Ken...Frank Dobson doesn't even come from London.
Sam F, UK
As a life long Labour supporter, I have to say this election has been a disgrace to the party. Clearly Londoners from all walks of life want Ken Livingstone as Mayor. If Tony Blair allows this farce to continue, and if Ken stands as an Independent and wins, then Tony Blair must seriously consider resigning whilst in office and letting the Tories (who disbanded the GLC) run amok again.
Derek, ex-pat living in Brazil, Brazil
Livingstone was a disaster for London when, as Leader of the old GLC, he decided that he could run a Government within a Government and take on Parliament. When the GLC was dissolved - really through his actions - London lost it's voice and it's way.
Nevertheless, he should be allowed to run as an Independent. I personally, hope he does just that and beats Dobson. Hopefully, between them they will split the Labour vote and London may get a decent Mayor.
Al, Greece (London Voter)
The selection process fails to take one thing into account. And that is who us Londoners actually want as Mayor! Now that Mr Puppet - sorry - Dobson is standing a Labours candidate, we all know it's a farce and part of Tony Blair's game that he calls a job.
Londoners will now vote for Chas Hodges of Chas 'n' Dave fame because there's not much else to choose from. However, if Ken ran as an independent, he'd get my vote. He may not have had a number one single, but I know he knows what he's doing. He should definitely run. This Year Mayor, next year prime minister!!!!
Steve Thompson, England
Of course Ken should run - at the moment I won't be voting because the choice is either Frank, Tony's puppet or the atrocious Steven Norris who I seem to remember when he was Transport Minister made a comment about meeting "odious people on public transport". I might not agree with everything Ken did in the GLC days but he's got to be better than these two idiots.
Definitely. The Labour Party running of this whole election is shameful. I intend to terminate my membership of the Labour Party. This is just the final straw in the total bad management that comes from Labour HQ.
Mr Livingstone should NOT stand for London Mayor. He promised to support the chosen Labour Party nomination. Just because it isn't him he sulks like a spoiled brat. Anyone old enough to remember the GLC will wonder if Londoners have any sense even considering Mr Livingstone, after all, he was the man that turned that grand local government machine into a world wide laughing stock.
Ron Worboys, UK
I have been a life-long labour supporter and, indeed, member, and have always been angry at the apathy of the voting public. However, I see no reason why I should vote for Blair's puppet and unless Ken stands as an independent, I won't be voting in the mayoral elections.
Charlotte K, England
Ken should run as an independent. He should have done this right from the start. I don't think we should have people representing the political parties running London as they will always be running it in the interests of their party and not in the interests of the people of London.
Dobson is a puppet, he was clearly persuaded to stand whereas Livingstone clearly felt passionately that he wanted to represent the people of London.
Paul Bentley, UK
As ever, Tony Blair gets his own way. I do not believe he has done so with the support of those Londoner's who will not have the choice they wanted. Of course Ken must run, for the sake of democracy, for the sake of Socialism.
Dave Godfrey, UK
Although easy to criticise by those who have lost, Labour's election system is a fair balance between the wishes of party members, the supporting trades unions, and the parliamentarians who have been elected to carry out Labour's agenda - if anything, it is the Union's votes which should be questioned, not the MPs and MEPs.
Cuddly though he is, Ken lost - and if he expects people to believe that he has the interests of London and his party at heart and not just his own personal agenda, he should stand by his word and give Frank Dobson his unequivocal support.
Ken Livingstone is a decent man, but he was not very good as GLC leader, at least Frank has a good and competent record in government. In the end this is not about personalities, but about who is best to run one of the world's biggest and most important cities. The mayor will be important for the whole of the UK, not just London (which pays a lot of the bills for the whole country) - we need a safe pair of hands in charge of a sensible package of policies to improve London.
One would have thought it would be difficult to give politics a bad name but I believe Mr. Blair has succeeded. Notwithstanding his promises to the contrary, I do hope that Mr. Livingstone can be persuaded to run as an independent candidate because I would like someone for whom I can vote to stand in the forthcoming elections and I cannot bring myself to vote (as a protest) for any of the others.
Yes, Ken should run in order to perpetuate his status as Britain's longest-serving martyr. If he wins that will be an almighty laugh. The London Assembly will have Labour, Conservative and LibDem members, none of whom support Saint Ken. So they won't necessarily support his policies. That'll be a laugh.
The whole thing is a long-running farce which would have been avoided if the largest party in the assembly were the ones who chose the mayor. Then you would have a connection between control of the assembly - and therefore the power to do significant things - and the mayor.
Paul Walter, England
Ken should stand. He has the interests of the City at heart, rather than party politics.
Paul Burgess, England
What a surprise Dobbin won the rigged election! Whatever Ken's politics, at least he has his own opinions and speaks his own mind. Dobbin Dobson will just say whatever Millbank tells him to!
Reading these comments one would think that Ken Livingstone was the prodigal son returning to save the nation. It is amazing how short people's memories are! Does anyone recall the farcical, madcap, 'loony left' policies of the GLC under Livingstone. I do and that's why I wouldn't vote for him, Labour or independent.
Alex Samuel, UK
Seems pretty cut and dried to me. Only one person on this page has bothered to drag out the same tired old objections to Ken Livingston. Everyone else seems united in their wish to see Ken on the ballot paper. Ken MUST stand.
Dave Cross, London, UK
I have always voted conservative, however like other young London Tories would be more than happy to vote Ken for mayor, as he is the best "London" man for the job regardless of left and right.
Arian Everett, UK
If Tony Blair had any sense, to save himself being accused of ballot-rigging, he should order a re-run the election for the Labour candidature of London Mayor, with the electors having a private vote as they are entitled. If after this Dobson is still elected, then Ken Livingstone should gracefully step down.
Ken is a TOP bloke. The people want him, the party wants him, London wants him! It would certainly kick Blair into touch and awaken him from his mid-term snooze!
We are seeing one of the problems that will come with personality politics. The argument has nothing to do with policy.
Other cities in the UK should seriously consider whether a directly elected head, especially with executive powers, is a good idea after all.
Andrew Witham, UK
I'd like to coin a new phrase - 'democratically challenged'. This is an ailment Mr Blair seems to be unable to throw - bulldozed the Lords out with no obvious alternative, put a puppet in charge of Wales, put a puppet in charge of Scotland and put 'dear old' Frank in charge of Labour's campaign in London against his own party's wishes. Tony, if you're a man of the people, listen to the people!
Struan Grant, Iceland
Of course Ken should run. He is the person that London wants as mayor. Blair has shot himself in the foot again in the same way that he did in Wales - too much of a control freak, I think!
Martin Grimwood, Bosnia
Ken Livingstone should run as an Independent in the knowledge that he will receive the backing of the people who count - Londoners. I have always voted Labour and I presumed I would do so in this election, however, I feel betrayed by the farcical election of Frank Dobson, and if Ken Livingstone does not stand as an independent candidate, I will not vote in this election - a situation which I never imagined I would find myself in. Ken should stand up for ordinary Londoners and run
Lucy, Hackney, England
Democracy is about the people, not about Tony Blair or his puppets (including Frank Dobson). I think Ken Livingstone should run as an independent, to enable the people of London choose who they want as their mayor. Tony, should remember that ' The voice of the people is the voice of God'.
Bola Obanubi, UK
Livingstone was only "defeated" by a corrupt and undemocratic Electoral College. The small margin of Dobson's win was less than the 8% of unions who block voted without consulted their members. Therefore, the result is not legitimate. The Blairite "social democrats" make me laugh. They are quite happy to argue against the block vote when courting Tories, but have no hesitation in using it when it suites their purposes. Ken Livingstone is the democratic choice of Labour Party members, as well as those unions who took the trouble to ballot their members. According to opinion polls, he is also the choice of Londoners. Ken Livingstone should stand for mayor of London on principle. He'd get my vote.
Graham Howard, Brit expat living in USA
It is a shame that Ken Livingstone, who is the only person worth voting for at first London mayor, will have to forego Labour membership if decides to run as an independent candidate. I personally had looked forward to a provocative and challenging election race between Ken and Jeffrey Archer. I don't see how someone (Frank Dobson) who was initially reluctant to enter the race can genuinely now turn around (as he did yesterday) and say if the government does not come up with the goods he will fight them. Who does he think he is kidding?
Lyn Misselbrook, UK
The systematic rigging of the Labour Party's candidate for London Mayor is contemptuous, cynical and arrogant. I cannot think of a recent event that is more likely to get me on the streets to protest than this. The Labour Party is in for a real shock when they discover the number of labour supporters and MANY OTHERS who are outraged by this anti-democratic state of affairs.
Chris Kenyon, United Kingdom
Ken shouldn't stand as an independent. He rejected joining the alternative left wing parties in the past in order to steal the Labour ticket, even though he had no intention of representing Labour attitudes when running London. If he switches now in order to run, we will all see that he was only in it for himself all along.
I find the prospect of Frank Dobson being Mayor of London, about as exciting as a rotund, dull, grey, old, charmless, balding man, in the pocket of his master, taking on a job that requires flair, intelligence, foresight and charm!
Martyn, London, UK
Tony Blair has, throughout this campaign, seriously misjudged the mood of the capital. Even on a "gut instinct" level, which will be the rational employed by most voters (Including myself!). Dobson just doesn't seem to be the type of candidate that would suit. These reservations are completely un-quantifiable, and so perhaps the spin-doctors can't see them, But if Ken runs, he's running past all the rest!
Chris Hiles, UK
I'm no lawyer but I've always thought that using coercion to effect an election is illegal. Surely threatening someone with expulsion from a political party if they decide to stand against the party's official candidate is also illegal.
If Ken doesn't stand as an independent he will regret it for the rest of his life, as will Londoners! He's got nothing left to lose.
Elly, London, UK
It would seem that by not allowing a large section of the population of London to have the chance to vote for their chosen candidate, Ken Livingstone. Democracy is not being served. This may have a drastic effect on whether the London electorate votes at all in the forthcoming mayoral contest.
Ken Livingstone is the only person who could possibly change London for the better. He knows London and understands London and has the talent to move the city forward. He knows what Londoners need and want when it comes to transportation and housing. It has been to long a city with a neglected health service and transportation system. To travel should be a right not something that you have to budget for. For most Londoners transportation is the second biggest outlay in a month. When Ken was around as Leader of the old GLC there was not only a good transportation system in place but there was the road forward for a fairer London for the people that live here.
Jonathan Franklin, England
I think Ken should definitely run. What does he have to lose? He'll clearly never achieve ministerial rank under Blair. Whereas I can envisage a groundswell of public sympathy should he stand as an independent. Here is a man who clearly loves London, and would give it a genuine voice nationally and internationally. Can you see Norris or Dobbo managing that?
As Mr. Blair has made a mockery of the selection process, Londoners should show their disapproval by making a mockery of his election. Ken's supporters should boycott the election if he isn't on the ballot in protest at the way Tony Blair has behaved. Blair's interference has been an utter disgrace - and like all things in politics, it will come back to haunt him one day.
How could Tony let this happen? Ken is the obvious front runner, why can't Tony see that. Okay Ken isn't everyman's cup of tea, but he wins the support of pretty major industries, isn't that what London needs. Tony had the opportunity to back Ken a long time ago and having done so Tony could have nurtured Ken into the modern Labour's creative ways, instead he has distanced himself from Ken completely and created a farcical image which is being portrayed in full public view. What did Tony say about in-house fighting killing the Tory's?
Ian Madelin, United Kingdom
Ken! Run for Mayor! Now! London needs you. And also the Labour Party needs you; there are millions of us who admire the Blair government but are appalled at the foolish abandonment of socialist principles, a belief that we are a society, that we need to care for one another, that in common we can do more than we can do apart, that the evils of exploitation can and must be checked by common effort. Run for Mayor now!
Steve, London, UK
I think that Mr Livingstone should, run, quite simply because Mr Dobson lacks the courage it would take to be mayor. He is not much more than a puppet for Mr Blair to manipulate, not good for London, but good for Blair.
Rick Whittaker, UK/Australia
Whilst the result of the contest within the Labour party has clearly failed to reflect the opinion of the general public, it should be remembered that all candidates were fully aware of how the selection procedure would operate. By claiming after the result has failed to go in his favour that he feels disillusionment with the whole process, Mr Livingstone seems to be attempting to court the populist vote by demanding Mr Dobson stands down. Would Mr Livingstone feel the same way had the marginal result gone the other way? I feel not! Protests at the system should have been made before the selection, not after it. This would have been the correct time to stand as an independent, not after the result had left Mr Livingstone with many sour grapes!
London needs - and it seems Londoners want - a man of character to represent their interests. Someone with the nerve to fight for London in the face of opposition from any angle, including the present Government. Livingstone is keen, enthusiastic and popular. Dobson didn't even want to take part until a few months ago - and I wonder what pressure was placed upon him to play 'Tony's stooge'? What ever happened to democracy? Of course Livingstone should run for Mayor...and break this pattern of paranoia and control exercised by the marketing yes-men employed by Blair. Whatever happened to strong and creative political leaders? This country is being run in the manner of corporate middle manager in fighting. We reel from crisis to sound bite with a policy vacuum, lack of achievement, lack of vision, lack of strength - from any party. Those who fought throughout history for our right to vote must be turning in their graves....
I think that Ken Livingstone should definitely make a stand against the result. The only honourable way to do this is to stand independently and show Londoners that he really wants this job. By giving up his place in the Labour party he would prove that he stands by his beliefs and is the type of man that will fight against injustice. As Londoners we read daily of injustice of one type or another going on in this "Great Capital?"
Susan, London, England
The point to running as an independent is often to protest a party or a piece of Government policy. An example is Dennis Canavan and Martin Bell. If he runs just to further his own skin, I would say no.
Josh, Hawaii, USA
Ken Livingstone has so many ultra left-wing views, voting for him would be like voting for the communist party! And if he is elected as mayor then I will personally boycott London, just like many will boycott Austria because of their ultra right-wing government!
I think that if Frank Dobson is as honest and trustworthy a man as he appears to be then he will recognise that Ken Livingstone was robbed of victory and do the decent thing and stand aside.
I am a Labour supporter, have been since Tony Blair took over, but will be voting for one of the other candidates in protest at this result. This is not democracy in action but autocracy. Ken would have been a good mayor as he would not have been a simple yes man as I believe Mr. Dobson will be. I think Ken should stand but that is something only he can decide, as it would mean his membership of the party. I for one would vote for him.
I respect and admire both Tony Blair and Ken Livingstone. They are two men of character who add to the strength of the British nation. In this case however, I believe Blair is clearly wrong to stop Livingstone from contesting in a fair fight as Livingstone is undoubtedly the preferred candidate of most Londoners. Blair is sadly, acting as a politician and not as a leader.
Londoners need someone who loves London to represent them. I, as a Londoner, would be honoured to support Ken if he decided to run as an independent candidate.
Sree Bhaskaran, UK
It doesn't seem that long ago when the Talking Point questioned whether the London Mayor Race was worth the effort. This current fiasco only serves to confirm my reaction then that the whole charade was intended offer "democracy" to Londoners by imposing a clone of Tony Blair with a beard on London.
The depths that Blair will plunge to, to ensure an iron grip on control, whilst promising more democracy, will never cease to amaze.
Oh, the question, should Ken stand? Why not, will make no difference to the outcome, he won't win. We can expect a London Mayor elected with the smallest of majorities (and no doubt the smallest recorded popular vote in history) limping from fiasco to no confidence vote on a weekly basis. And the strangest thing to come out of all this saga is that no one has actually answered how this will help Londoners in any way.
Roy Chapman, UK / Germany
Definitely! The New Labour Party of Blair and his stooge Dobson is NOT the Labour Party Ken has known and loved for years. It needs someone of his stature to burst the Blairite bubble by standing as an independent. Even if this lets the Tory Norris in that would be better than Tony's puppet Dobson.
Livingstone would be expelled from New Labour, but he would lose nothing as he has no future under Blair and this could hopefully lead to the Old (Real) Labour traditionalists splitting off and forming their own party as the SDP was formed in the 1980s by right wing ex Labourites. Ken have the courage of your convictions and stand!
Steve Foley, England
I don't think that Ken is an extremist, as some comments here make out. I remember Ken's London & I remember how London changed - much for the worse - after the demise of the GLC. I would have shouted the house down if he had won the candidacy but I'm concerned that if he runs as an independent he goes back on numerous promises which he made in his campaign that he wouldn't do so.
It's also risky - would he get the kind of support he needs? Millbank will do everything they can to scare people off him. This is also a shame because in many ways I think that his being mayor would be good for the Labour Party.
Barry Patterson, UK
It makes me laugh that Tony Blair expects Ken Livingstone to play fair and stand down after an election that has been so rigged. I will be voting for Steven Norris if Ken Livingstone is not on the ballot paper. I never thought I'd see the day when the arrogance of the leader of the labour party would cause me to vote conservative.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.
David Grover, England
Ken Livingstone and the London Labour Party have been the victims of Tony Blair's arrogance. Frank Dobson has also been a victim, for he is a good man who has been used for ugly purposes and who can never have any credibility as a true Labour candidate. That said, Livingstone and his supporters, justifiably outraged as they are, should not run an independent candidacy. He should study the approach Rhondri Morgan used in Wales. An independent candidacy(and the Tory mayoral victory it would produce) has always been what Tony Blair actually wanted.
Ken Burch, U.S.A.
Ken Livingstone has so many ultra left-wing views, voting for him would be like voting for the communist party! And if he is elected as mayor then I will personally boycott London, just like many will boycott Austria because of their ultra right-wing government!
Ken should declare tommorrow, and should run as bloody a campaign against Dobson as he can muster. This is the only hope for the election, which will otherwise be dull, corrupt, and doomed, and will taint every subsequent London election with the stale air of death. Blair deserves a lesson in democracy, and Londoners deserve a mayor who embodies their humour and moxie. If Norris wins because of a split labour vote it will teach Blair to learn when to let go. If Dobson wins against Ken in a straight fight it will make him a stronger, more honorable mayor. If Ken wins London will have asserted its will against the Millbank spin machine, and will be able to see itself as the independently minded, world-class city it could and should be. Blair is competent, no doubt, but he is not a Londoner and should butt out of London's new politics. Ken should run. It can only be good for the race, and for British politics in general, whatever the eventual result.
Kim Janssen, USA
I have no doubt that Ken should stand as an independent if this tainted result cannot be overturned. What is the point of having a London mayor at all if he will just do what Tony Blair tells him to? Londoners need someone who will fight London's corner, not someone who only stood for the job because Blair told him to.
Paul Gardner, UK
Ken should run independently because he should be able to express himself free from any frame made by a political party, also if he needs money, he can ask Mrs Elizabeth Windsor as i believe she has a lot of money to spare and she lives in London.
A & T, usa and uk
Don't just stand, Ken, RUN!
greg, USA and UK
Should Ken run?
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