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Tuesday, October 19, 1999 Published at 09:34 GMT 10:34 UK

UK Politics

Will Livingstone go it alone?

Ken Livingstone: "Determined to be mayor"

Reports that Ken Livingstone will run as an independent candidate for London mayor should the Labour Party block his nomination are being rubbished by his supporters - despite his strongest hint yet that he may go it alone.

Geoff Martin: Millbank are trying to undermine Mr Livingstone's campaign
Geoff Martin, the London convenor for Unison, said the reports were an attempt to undermine Mr Livingstone's campaign and that the party leadership was "running scared".

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Mr Livingstone recently pledged to campaign for the successful Labour nominee - whoever it should be - but his statement was made before Labour settled on a selection process for its candidate.

Last week the party revealed its decision to use an electoral college to choose its candidate rather than one-member, one-vote, as had been expected.

The system which gives a third of votes to MPs, MEPs and GLA candidates, a third to the unions and a third to party members had been thought to favour the party leadership's choice for mayor, Frank Dobson.

Party sources have already warned that should Mr Livingstone stand as an independent he will face immediate expulsion.

When asked on Monday night if he would go it alone, Mr Livingstone told The Times newspaper: "I hope that won't be necessary.

"I hope that reason will prevail, but I really intend to be mayor so you can draw your own conclusions."

Responding to the remarks Mr Martin told the BBC he did not think the quoted comments were an accurate reflection of what Mr Livingstone had said.

"I suspect that the dark artists from the Millbank spin department are trying to pump this up as an attempt to undermine Ken's growing campaign in the electoral college.

"I think they are running scared and this is being played out to undermine his campaign with Labour Party members."

Polls back independent Livingstone

But if Mr Livingstone was to stand as an independent he would still stand a fair chance of success, according to two recent opinion polls.

Both suggest not only that Mr Livingstone could win as independent but that he is polling very strongly when compared to both Mr Dobson and the Conservative candidate Lord Archer.

There are two other Labour contenders to be mayor, the broadcaster Trevor Phillips and the former junior minister Glenda Jackson. The Liberal Democrat candidate is Susan Kramer.

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