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Tuesday, January 26, 1999 Published at 11:15 GMT


UK Politics

Livingstone: Labour blocking me

Ken Livingstone: "Stop me and Archer will win"

Left-wing Labour MP Ken Livingstone is insisting the party leadership is attempting to prevent him becoming Labour's candidate for London mayor.

Mr Livingstone says a candidate selection system is being devised that will stop him making it onto Labour's shortlist.


Ken Livingstone: "It's all about blocking me"
Speaking on the BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he also said that "off the record briefings" were being made against him by the party to the media.

Mr Livingstone, who was the former leader of the Greater London Council, is a Labour traditionalist and is one of the front-runners to become London mayor - a role which is likely to become the highest profile political role in England, second only to that of prime minister.

His remarks come as Labour's ruling National Executive Committee meets to agree the selection process for the 25 candidates for the new London-wide assembly.

Last week the Conservative Party announced they would be using a one-member one-vote selection process for their candidates.

Mr Livingstone said that the NEC committee setting up the vetting system for candidates would be sure to "rubber stamp" the decisions of the leadership as he said it contained no trade union or local constituency representation.

'All about stopping me'

Mr Livingstone added: "We were told all through last year that we were bound to set up procedures for selecting a mayor, then, at the last NEC meeting it wasn't on the agenda and we were told it definitely would be taken up this time. Now we are told that it will almost certainly come up in March.

"The party is making itself look rather foolish on this because the Tories have announced their procedure. And to go ahead and start speculating on candidates for the assembly when you still haven't worked out how you are going to select the one for mayor I think just looks as though this is all about stopping me."

But the chairman of the Board of the London Labour Party, MP Jim Fitzpatrick, dismissed Mr Livingstone's remarks, accusing him of playing games.

The big match

"I think Ken's playing mind games here. He's behaving like a football manager before a fixture trying to out psyche the opposition."

He continued saying: "We are setting up the procedure to select the assembly candidates, we have 25 to select, the mayoral procedure was always going to follow that."

Responding to Mr Livingstone's remark that setting up a candidate shortlist was undemocratic he said: "There are too many people standing", making it "a practical impossibility to put everyone on the ballot paper".

'I'll still be mayor'

But despite the internal row over candidate selection Mr Livingstone still believes he will eventually be mayor.

"After all the nonsense has gone on for another six damaging months they'll recognise the reality that you can't impose a candidate on London."

"Londoners are going to demand the right to chose the candidate they want, if the Labour Party rigs the elections then people will sit on their hands and you will get Jeffrey Archer," he said.

Elections for London mayor will take place in May 2000.



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