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Monday, 24 January, 2000, 14:43 GMT
Livingstone offers Jackson deputy role

Glenda Jackson could be Ken Livingstone's deputy mayor

Ken Livingstone has offered his rival Glenda Jackson the job of deputy if he is elected mayor of London in May.

London Mayor
The Brent East MP has promised to appoint Ms Jackson his deputy mayor, chairwoman of the Metropolitan Police Authority and a roving ambassador for London.

The offer came in a letter to all constituency Labour parties in the capital. It also calls for Ms Jackson to be placed at the head of the "top-up" list of candidates for the Greater London Assembly.

That position is currently held by Trevor Phillips - running mate of the third candidate for Labour's mayoral nomination, Frank Dobson. Mr Phillips would be relegated to second place if party managers were to put Ms Jackson on the list.

Before he dropped out of the mayoral race himself last year to run on a joint ticket with Mr Dobson, Mr Phillips attacked as racist an offer to be Mr Livingstone's deputy.

The Jackson campaign gave a cautious welcome to the offer. "Glenda's in this race to win it - and not being on the assembly list is a key obstacle," a spokesman told BBC News Online. "But it is always positive whenever someone is complimentary."

Frank Dobson: Offered a job in Livingstone's cabinet
According to sources close to Ms Jackson, the Hampstead and Highgate MP was "seriously considering" Mr Livingstone's offer. If she accepts it, the two would make a joint appeal to the Labour leadership to re-open the top-up list.

The Dobson campaign dismissed Mr Livingstone's offer to Ms Jackson as "another hollow promise" from the left-winger. A spokesman told BBC News Online: "Ken's making offers he can't deliver on - Glenda Jackson is not on the top-up list, and there is no mechanism to put her there at this late stage."

Unity move

Mr Livingstone is presenting his offer to Mr Jackson as the opportunity to put forward a united team for the mayoral election.

He said: "After such a bruising and divisive selection contest, it is essential to mobilise the Labour Party and Londoners behind a united team that can go onto win the election and improve the quality of life for all Londoners."

He also said he would ask Mr Dobson, Downing Street's preferred candidate, to join his mayoral cabinet and co-ordinate the fight against poverty.

Mr Phillips would be offered the vice-chairmanship of the police authority under Mr Livingstone's proposal, instead of the chairmanship promised by the Dobson campaign.

Ms Jackson, the double Oscar-winning actress and MP for Hampstead and Highgate, is playing an increasingly pivotal role in the contest to become Labour's mayoral candidate.

Last week she announced she would ballot her constituency party to decide which candidate she would advise her supporters to back as their second preference if she drops out of the race.

Ballot papers are posted to Labour members in the capital on Wednesday. On the same day Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has been anxious to halt the Livingstone bandwagon, is to attend another question-and-answer session for party members.

He is expected to once again issue a strong appeal to Labour members not to back the left-wing MP. An appearance at a similar meeting last week badly backfired, however, when the audience heckled the prime minister and Chancellor Gordon Brown.

The result of Labour's mayoral contest will be announced next month.

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See also:
20 Jan 00 |  UK Politics
Livingstone appeals for calm
19 Jan 00 |  UK Politics
Labour leaders raise mayoral stakes
19 Jan 00 |  UK Politics
Jackson's support goes to a ballot
17 Jun 99 |  UK Politics
Phillips accuses Livingstone of racism
24 Jun 99 |  UK Politics
Mayor Phillips sets out his stall

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