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The BBC's John Pienaar
"His high profile is his strongest currency"
 real 28k

The BBC's Carole Walker reports
"He's broken his promises not to stand"
 real 28k

Ken Livingstone
"A new standard of ballot-rigging was set in the selection of the Labour candidate"
 real 28k

Frank Dobson
"I am not going to stand down"
 real 28k

Stephen Norris, Conservative Candidate
"If there is a God he's obviously Tory"
 real 28k

Susan Kramer, Liberal Democrat Candidate
"I'm ready to take Ken on"
 real 28k

Monday, 6 March, 2000, 21:07 GMT
Labour suspends Livingstone
Livingstone: Willing to stand out
Ken Livingstone has been suspended from the Labour Party after declaring he will run as an independent candidate for London mayor.

London Mayor
Mr Livingstone made his announcement on Monday, ending two weeks of frenzied speculation in the media over whether he would leave Labour after 31 years of commitment to the party.

The Brent East MP declared his intention to stand as an independent saying the 4 May ballot will become a referendum for Londoners on their right to self-government.

Labour Party general secretary Margaret McDonagh has written to the MP saying she was using delegated powers under the party's constitution to suspend his membership pending a full inquiry.

"In the meantime, my decision means that you will not be allowed to represent the Labour Party at any level nor be in receipt of the Labour whip," she wrote.

Her decision has yet to be ratified by the party's ruling National Executive Committee, but senior party sources have made it clear there is no way back to the Labour fold for the left-winger.

But responding to the news Mr Livingstone predicted he would be back in the party after the current "crisis".

Speaking earlier on Monday, Mr Livingstone urged other Labour members to stay within the party, while he promised to cast his second preference in the mayoral ballot for Frank Dobson, Labour's official candidate.

'Livingstone a liar'

The eight-week campaign promises to be tough with Mr Livingstone already being branded "a liar" by Mr Dobson, after he turned his back on commitments to support the Labour candidate whoever should win the party's controversial internal ballot.

At least he is not my responsibility any more.

Tony Blair
Mr Livingstone said new heights in ballot rigging had been reached by the party in winning the nomination for Mr Dobson after the Brent East MP emerged as the clear choice of party members.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has already washed his hands of Mr Livingstone saying he would be a "disaster" for London and adding: "At least he is not my responsibility any more."

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott predicted Mr Livingstone was joining the likes of David Owen and Derek Hatton, by "walking off into the wilderness, trying to split the party for the sake of personal advancement".

Listening to London

Explaining his decision to stand Mr Livingstone said it would have been in the best interests of democracy if those making decisions in the Labour Party "had listened to London but by the end of last week it was clear they would not do so".

He said: "The London mayor election on 4 May will now be a referendum on whether London's first elected mayor will bring self government to the capital or whether merely be a facade with all real decisions imposed and taken centrally."

The former Greater London Council leader made his decision on Saturday but timed its announcement to clash with the official re-launch of the Dobson campaign.

When asked how voters could trust him after he had broken his commitment not to stand as an independent, Mr Livingstone said Londoners "have seen the commitments I have given. They have to weigh that against the way in which Labour conducted its mayoral selection.

"They will choose which is the greatest crime."

Setting up the new campaign

Mr Livingstone said his immediate concern was to set up a campaign and urged Londoners to send him money to enable him to continue in the race, whose chief policy issue is likely to be the future of London Underground.

Frank Dobson: "He cannot hide"
Mr Dobson said: "I have one message for him - Ken, you can run but you cannot hide your politics from Londoners.

"I will expose your policies and the people that surround you every day, every week of this campaign and I will do it because you are dangerous for London."

Tories 'delighted'

Tory candidate Steve Norris welcomed Mr Livingstone's announcement, which he said would split the Labour vote in May.

He said he was "absolutely delighted" to be in a two-horse race with Mr Livingstone and that Mr Dobson's campaign was "dead in the water".

Liberal Democrat candidate Susan Kramer said: "Ken Livingstone promised Labour that he would not stand," she said. "If he's unreliable on this issue, how can we trust him to run London?"
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See also:

06 Mar 00 |  UK Politics
Blair's mayor crisis
06 Mar 00 |  UK Politics
The battle for ahead for Livingstone
06 Mar 00 |  UK Politics
Life beyond Labour
06 Mar 00 |  UK Politics
Livingstone campaign: Full reaction
06 Mar 00 |  UK Politics
Ken Livingstone: Rebel with a cause
06 Mar 00 |  UK Politics
Livingstone: An issue of principle
20 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
Dobson: Labour's loyal hope
26 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
What does the mayor get to do?
03 Mar 00 |  UK Politics
Out of the frying pan
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