Wednesday, October 20, 1999 Published at 09:13 GMT 10:13 UK
Phillips drops out of mayor race
Trevor Phillips: Now virtually guaranteed an Assembly seat
Broadcaster Trevor Phillips has thrown in the towel on his attempt to become mayor of London.
In a statement Mr Phillips said: "I am today withdrawing my candidacy for the Labour nomination for mayor of London and backing the only serious candidate left in the race, Frank Dobson."
Mr Phillips' decision leaves a three-way battle to win Labour's nomination between Mr Dobson, Brent East MP Ken Livingstone and former transport minister and actress Glenda Jackson.
Along with the news of his withdrawal from the race came the announcement from Labour headquarters that Mr Phillips had been placed top of the party's "top-up" list of candidates for the new Greater London Assembly, to be elected at the same time as the mayor.
'We agree on everything'
Mr Phillips denied he had entered the mayoral race simply to raise his profile and secure a berth as deputy mayor.
"I have been talking it over with Frank ever since he decided to run, and we agree on virtually everything," he insisted.
"This partnership is not about what is best for me, but what is best for London."
He sought to brush aside any apparent contradiction with his own dismissal in a BBC News Online interview earlier this year of a deputyship offer - from Ken Livingstone on that occasion - as racist.
Opinion polls had for some time shown Mr Phillips, a Blairite loyalist, languishing some way behind other prospective mayoral candidates.
When Mr Dobson entered the race Mr Phillips' prospects of picking up the anti-Livingstone vote were further diminished.
Ms Jackson is now expected to come under increased pressure to also stand down in order to maximise Mr Dobson's chances.
Electoral college, not Omov
Last week Labour managers caused surprise when they backtracked on plans to hold a one-member, one-vote ballot of London party members to choose the candidate. Instead, an electoral college will make the decision.
The electoral college gives a third of votes to MPs, MEPs and GLA candidates, a third to the unions and a final third to party The system is likely to favour Mr Dobson over Mr Livingstone, a left-winger popular with Labour's rank and file.
The attacks were becoming "more hysterical", the MP said, because it could end up a very close finish for the nomination between himself and Mr Dobson.
"I can't believe the scale of abuse," Mr Livingstone told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"If I win the Labour nomination, these are the people who are going to have to go out and urge people to vote Labour. This will all be thrown back at them."
He also dismissed speculation that he would run for mayor as an independent candidate, declaring: "I am staying in the Labour Party ... I am not standing as an independent."
Whoever becomes Labour's candidate will face Lord Archer for the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats' Susan Kramer next May.
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