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Sunday, October 17, 1999 Published at 17:23 GMT 18:23 UK

UK Politics

Kinnock attacks Livingstone's record

Neil Kinnock: "Ken Livingstone invented the loony left"

Former Labour leader Neil Kinnock has attacked London mayoral hopeful Ken Livingstone, currently riding high in the opinion polls.

He accused Mr Livingstone, former head of the Greater London Council, of destroying the body and inventing the "loony left".

[ image: Ken Livingstone is not popular with the Labour establishment]
Ken Livingstone is not popular with the Labour establishment
"I certainly would never vote for Ken Livingstone on the basis of his past record, but also on the basis I think of his motivations too," said Mr Kinnock, who fought bitter battles with the party's left wing during the 1980s.

Mr Kinnock's comments come after a new opinion poll which said Mr Livingstone would win a mayoral election even if he lost out on the coveted Labour nomination and stood as an independent candidate.

The Mori poll, published in the Mail on Sunday, said Mr Livingstone was the first choice of 42% of respondents, far ahead of his nearest rival, the Tory candidate Lord Archer on 25%.

The BBC's Carole Walker: "The last person the Labour leadership wants to win is Ken Livingstone"
Former actress and junior transport minister Glenda Jackson came third with 13% while Frank Dobson, who gave up his job as health secretary in an attempt to be mayor, attracted just 12%.

The Liberal Democrat candidate, Susan Kramer, came fifth with 10%.

Mr Kinnock said Mr Livingstone would use the job to "provide himself with a permanent platform for opposition", and said he would be backing Mr Dobson, seen as the favourite of the Labour leadership.

[ image: Frank Dobson is a late entrant into the race]
Frank Dobson is a late entrant into the race
But the pollsters found Mr Livingstone's chances of success would actually increase, to 48%, if he was cold-shouldered by Labour and stood as an independent.

In that event Mr Dobson, as the official Labour candidate, could count on only 22% of votes.

Foreign Secretary Robin Cook also gave his backing to Mr Dobson on Sunday.

Political Correspondent Carole Walker says Mr Dobson was persuaded to put himself forward by the Labour establishment, in a desperate attempt to prevent Mr Livingstone winning the party's nomination.

The leadership fears Mr Livingstone because he is a "left-wing maverick" whom they cannot control, she said.

The Mori poll, which surveyed more than 1,000 Londoners, suggests attempts by Prime Minister Tony Blair to "fix" the nomination system would backfire.

Of those polled, 77% said Mr Blair should not try to stop Mr Livingstone from becoming the official Labour Party candidate.

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