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Sunday, 12 March, 2000, 10:45 GMT
Hands off my beard: Dobson
Frank Dobson
Frank Dobson refuses to change his appearance
Labour's candidate for London mayor has revealed he refused to shave off his beard when image-makers asked him to do so.

London Mayor
Party strategists thought Frank Dobson would stand a better chance at the polls without his facial hair.

But Mr Dobson says he bluntly told them: "Get stuffed".

The former health secretary is facing the potential prospect of a humiliating defeat at the hands of Ken Livingstone in London's mayoral race.

Livingstone
Ken Livingstone's clean-shaven image could win votes, say strategists
Image-makers thought a clean-shaven look more likely to attract votes, Mr Dobson confirmed.

Speaking on GMTV's The Sunday Programme With Alastair Stewart, he said: "I told them to get stuffed because, quite frankly, I'm not in the image business - with me, what you see is what you get.

"If you don't like what you see, don't vote for me but listen to what I've got to say."

He said the electorate should be judging his policies on crime, transport and jobs.

Mr Dobson also called on the prime minister to give him stronger backing in public.

norris
The Tories' Steven Norris is also whisker-less
"I want him to spell out very clearly his support for me," he said.

Mr Blair should be "stepping up his commitment now I am the official Labour candidate", Mr Dobson said.

But he dismissed as "the usual tittle-tattle" stories that Mr Blair had written off his chances of defeating Mr Livingstone.

"I know the facts and all that is rubbish - Tony Blair and the rest of the government are strongly backing me.

"That will become obvious during the rest of the campaign," he said.

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See also:

07 Mar 00 | UK Politics
The mayor race in pictures
08 Mar 00 | UK Politics
PM rallies behind Dobson
07 Mar 00 | UK Politics
Mayor candidates line up for debate
06 Mar 00 | Talking Point
Is Ken right to stand?
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