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Tory mayor hopeful Ivan Massow
"This is really important"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 1 December, 1999, 16:11 GMT
Gay Tory stays in mayor race
The race to become London's first elected mayor remains open

A gay contender to become the Tory London mayor candidate has revealed he will stand after threatening to quit over Clause 28.

London Mayor
Millionaire businessman Ivan Massow, 32, told BBC News Online he had been assured he could continue to oppose the measure, although Conservatives at Westminster will vote against its repeal.

"I've always stood on a platform to call for Clause 28 to be abolished and that cannot change," said Mr Massow, who is believed to be William Hague's preferred candidate.

"I'd be mad to even consider backing down on something like that. It's one of my biggest beliefs."

Tories needed to realise public opinion had changed on homosexuality, he said.

"People just aren't bothered and the sooner the old guard of the party start to realise that the sooner we'll be a little bit more popular."

William Hague is believed to favour Ivan Massow as the Tory candidate
Mr Massow, who joined the Conservatives aged 14 and made his fortune selling life assurance to gay men, admitted he had not sought to raise this issue at the start of his campaign.

He entered the contest on Tuesday, but immediately questioned his own decision when a friend told him the shadow cabinet had decided last week to enforce a three-line whip on opposing the abolition of Clause 28.

"I didn't really want to be seen as a single-issue politician and I think I've demonstrated that anyway," Mr Massow said.

"On the other hand I'm glad of the opportunity to demonstrate that I'm not going to bow down on this issue because it's really important to the people I respect - metropolitan Londoners."

The government has promised to repeal Clause 28, which prevents local authorities from promoting homosexuality and has long been a target of gay rights campaigners, during the current parliamentary session.

Mr Massow said the strength of support he had experienced in recent weeks had led him to decide to stand.

He insisted he had a genuine chance of becoming the Tory's candidate and replacing disgrace peer Lord Archer.

"As the process marches on, I'm more and more certain that I stand a good chance," he said.

"I don't know if I could beat Ken Livingstone but I'm sure that of the candidates I'd stand the biggest chance."

A fourth hopeful also announced her intention to try to become the Conservative London mayor candidate on Wednesday.

Lady Miller, a 66-year-old solicitor who is married with three children, offers London Tories a more conventional option.

Declaring her candidacy, she said: "I love this city, but there is much to be done. I have been a doer all my life.

"I believe I can mobilise the immense talents of the people of this city for the improvement of London. I understand their concerns and believe that I can speak for them."

The other two candidates to have confirmed they will seek the post are Andrew Boff and John Wilkinson, the MP for Ruislip North, both of whom contested the selection last time around.

The runner-up from that contest, former transport minister Steven Norris, is expected to confirm he will try again on Thursday.

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See also:
23 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
The Archer scandal
26 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
London mayor: Your views
26 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
A timeline of London government

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