Ken Livingstone has risked the wrath of the Labour Party by appearing alongside an independent candidate in the Tower Hamlets Mayoral contest.
Me Livingstone, who was last month selected as the official Labour candidate in London’s 2012 Mayoral election, was filmed while appearing in the borough with Lutfur Rahman, an independent contender who was dropped as Labour’s own candidate after “serious allegations” were made about him.
After dropping Rahman the party adopted Helal Abbas in preference to London Assembly Member John Biggs who came second in the selection ballot.
Under Labour Party rules, any member who campaigns for a rival candidate risks being expelled. Although Labour has already suspended a number of local councillors for supporting Mr Rahman it seems unlikely any action will be taken against Livingstone.
In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon Livingstone said: “I am disappointed by the way the NEC handled the selection in Tower Hamlets and I am sure that under Ed Miliband’s leadership things would have been handled differently.
“However, my position is clear: I fully support Labour candidates in all elections and I am calling for Tower Hamlets residents to use their first preference vote for our candidate Helal Abbas.
‘A second preference should be used for Lutfur Rahman to keep the Tories out.”
The Evening Standard quotes a Labour official as saying: “Of course people are bloody pissed off but I just can’t see Ken facing any sanction. We’ve spent too much time and effort getting him selected and he’s too high profile for us to kick out now.”