Ken Livingstone today formally launched his campaign to become Labour’s Mayoral candidate in the 2012 Greater London Authority elections.
Livingstone’s candidacy has been widely trailed since he lost to Boris Johnson in 2008 and today’s launch will be seen by many City Hall observers as merely formalising the situation.
During a visit to Croydon where he met shoppers and joined local party activists who were signing up new party members, Livingstone said if elected he would “overhaul London’s budget priorities in favour of Londoners as a whole” and highlighted that under Johnson “a single bus fare by Oyster has risen by a staggering one third, as has the price of a weekly bus pass.”
The former Mayor said he was “looking forward” to the hustings and hearing what rival Oona King, who announced her candidacy last week, had to say on the issues facing the capital. He also reiterated that Mayor of London would be his “final political job” whatever the outcome of the Labour’s selection process and, ultimately, the GLA elections.
Since losing office the former Mayor, who served between 2000 and 2008, has often attended Mayor’s Question Time sessions at City Hall and commented on his successor’s policies.
He has also founded the Progressive London movement which some have criticised as a thinly veiled re-election vehicle.
In an interview conducted with this site in February and published this week, Livingstone said the question for would-be challengers to is “are you going to beat me on the ballot”.
Last Friday a group of prominent Labour politicians, including London Assembly Members Nicky Gavron and Val Shawcross, signed a letter describing Livingstone “as the best-placed candidate to secure a progressive future for London.”
The deadline for nominations is June 18th after which the party will announce the final shortlist of candidates. A series of hustings will then tale place across London with the party announcing its candidate in September after a ballot of members and affiliated organisations.
Livingstone has announced that Labour MP David Lammy, who was widely touted as a potential candidate for the Mayoralty, will act as his campaign chair.
In a statement issued on Wednesday night Lammy said: “I saw what a recession can mean for Londoners during the 1980s. There were riots just a few roads away from our family home. London needs a political heavyweight to stand up to this government
“Ken is that figure. He knows city government and coalition politics inside out, he has been through countless Whitehall spending rounds and he has London in his soul.
“Ken’s experience, his track record and his commitment to social justice make him the best placed to lead London in 2012.”