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Last Updated: Friday, 16 June 2006, 10:51 GMT 11:51 UK
Brown 'should hold snap election'
Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown should be elected unopposed, says Ken Livingstone
Gordon Brown should call a snap general election if he becomes prime minister, says London Mayor Ken Livingstone.

Mr Livingstone says Mr Brown would face claims that he did not have a mandate for his plans unless he went to the polls soon after succeeding Tony Blair.

In a GMTV interview, Mr Livingstone also says Mr Brown should be elected unopposed as the next Labour leader.

There is so much support for Mr Brown that a contest would be "virtually meaningless", he argues.

"There's such an overwhelming consensus that Gordon will succeed," Mr Livingstone tells GMTV's Sunday programme.

Mr Livingstone also says the post of Labour deputy leader, currently held by John Prescott, should be scrapped as it was "virtually worthless".

'Short honeymoon'

There has been speculation over whether Mr Brown would want to hold an election immediately if he took over from Mr Blair.

John Major called an election 15 months after taking over from Margaret Thatcher in 1990.

Mr Livingstone says: "My advice to Gordon would be: go for the immediate general election, renew our mandate, because the media is so negative and so destructive that there would be about a 48-hour honeymoon.

"Then it would be an unrelenting: 'Tony wouldn't have done this, Tony would have done this differently, you haven't got a mandate for that.'

"So I think people will take the view, unless it's right up against the end of the term, though I don't think it will be, they want to endorse that change."

Raid apology

The mayor has strongly defended Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair in recent weeks over the fallout from the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes.

In the latest interview, he says it is right for police to conduct the Forest Gate raid on the basis of intelligence that turned out to be wrong.

Brothers Mohammed Abdulkahar and Abul Koyair, who were arrested in the raid and later released, last week demanded justice as they described their ordeal.

He says: "The trouble is, so much intelligence is brought up, and even if you think that there is only a 50% chance that it's right, I mean what person would say 'Oh well, it's only a 50% chance, we'll just leave some surveillance a week or two' and then in that time, the operation happens?

"I mean, we would never be forgiven, so I genuinely apologise to the brothers and genuinely mean that, and we will look at the points that they have raised, but if there is the slightest suggestion that someone is planning to take life, there isn't much of an option but to go in."

Mr Livingstone said Sir Ian was "really disturbed" about the wrong intelligence and "wants to make sure that we don't have a repeat of this".

Congestion charge

On another London issue, the mayor puts himself in line for further controversy.

He suggests the current 8 congestion charge in the capital should be raised to 20 for cars which give out two or three times the "normal level of carbon emissions".

But he says it will be months before he knows whether it is possible to have a system sophisticated enough to pick out the most polluting vehicles.

London is three quarters of the way towards meeting its target of cutting carbon emissions by 20% on 1990 lessons, he says, but the last quarter will be "the difficult one".

More on Ken Livingstone's comments

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