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Wednesday, June 16, 1999 Published at 15:23 GMT 16:23 UK

UK Politics

Phillips accuses Livingstone of racism

Trevor Phillips was awarded an OBE for services to broadcasting

Trevor Phillips, the broadcaster and writer standing to become Labour's candidate for London mayor, has accused his main rival for the nomination of racism.

Trevor Phillips' reaction to Ken Livingstone's offer to run as part of a "dream ticket" - with Phillips as deputy
In an interview with BBC News Online he said an offer made by Ken Livingstone, the left-wing MP for Brent East, to have Mr Phillips as his deputy was patronising and betrayed a lack of sensitivity towards ethnic minorities.

Mr Phillips said: "I think that there is a rather serious point that I will put as mildly as I can. All of us who come from minority communities get rather used to and fed up of, any time we emerge on the public scene, people treating us as apprentices, you know.

[ image: Ken Livingstone: His offer to Trevor Phillips was
Ken Livingstone: His offer to Trevor Phillips was "arrogant and patronising", according to the broadcaster
"I have done a great many things in my life. I've worked in the private sector for most of it. I've been an executive in a FTSE 100 company. I've got my own business. I've created an organisation like the Runnymede Trust from virtually nothing. I'm chair of the London Arts Board, which in its actual machinery is pretty much as big as the mayor will have.

"So I don't really have to take lessons from anybody on how to run an organisation or how to lead. So I found it a bit patronising.

"But because I like Ken I'm prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt that it isn't what he meant and that he just made a mistake.

"But, you know, if he wants to be leader of a city where a third of the people are from ethnic minorities, I think he's going to have to be a little bit more sensitive, isn't he?"

Offer came in open letter

Mr Livingstone, the former leader of the Greater London Council, made the offer in January in an open letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair.

[ image:  ]
The Brent East MP is also running for Labour's London mayoral nomination but fears party officials will block him on account of his left-wing views.

In the letter, he pledged not to use the mayorship as a platform to attack the government, and accepted his election ticket may have to be balanced with a "deputy mayor more closely associated with the New Labour project".

He said he would, for example, be more than happy to run on a joint ticket with Mr Trevor Phillips, "who I understand is your preferred choice".

In the interview, Mr Phillips also said that he believed the anonymous sources close to Downing Street who told the media he was the prime minister's favoured mayoral candidate had damaged his cause.

"There is a kind of historic problem in the Labour Party which is that we can tend to be slightly obsessed with our own affairs and our own personalities and our own internal business, and I do worry that at some points that makes us look as though we're losing touch with where the majority of the population is."

Mr Livingstone on Wednesday told BBC News Online he hoped "Trevor is feeling better soon".

He added: "This reminds me of the old Masai warrior saying, 'The mighty elephant does not mind that the gnat bites his bum'."

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