It now seems clear that Ken Livingstone will be fighting the next Mayoral election as the official Labour candidate.
Since his election as Mayor, Livingstone has challenged government policy in the courts, openly rowed with government ministers and sacked his Labour Deputy Mayor (who rumors suggest will be offered her old job back in return for standing down).
Only this week he criticised Blair’s relationship with President Bush and spoke out against the curbs placed on legitimate demonstrations.
In return, the Labour leader – having previously stated a Livingstone Mayoralty would be “disastrous for London” – has ignored Livingstone’s views on Tube Privatisation, sacked Transport Chief Bob Kiley from the London Underground Board and generally marginalised the Mayor.
How can these two men look Londoners in the eye and claim that they speak the same language? No doubt in the coming months we’ll be told the Labour Party is a ‘big tent’ capable of holding such disparate views. Clearly the tent has had an extension built since Blair and the Labour Party rigged their selection process to ensure it was Dobson, not Livingstone, leading Labour’s charge in 2000.
MayorWatch has long aimed to provide impartial coverage of London’s politics, we supported Ken’s right to run in 2000, endorsed the congestion charge and defended him against the absurd ‘row’ over his taxi expenses.
We did this because we believed that London had elected a Mayor who cared more for its residents than his own political career. We were wrong, and now all Londoners can see that their needs take second place behind Livingstone’s desire for re-admittance to Labour.
Mr Livingstone should beware, Londoners have long memories and dislike politicians who put themselves about the Capital. The legions of Tory and LibDem supporters who backed Ken last time may well return to their party folds.
Both parties are fielding serious candidates, and Mr Norris needs only a small increase in his 2000 support to unseat the Mayor. Suddenly the outcome of the 2004 elections is difficult to see.