Labour back Ken for third mayoral term

Ken Livingstone will stand as a Labour candidate in next year’s London mayoral elections.

The London Labour party confirmed that it is backing Mr Livingstone as he stands for a third successive term. After canvassing local members, the party agreed Mr Livingstone had “overwhelming backing”.

This contrasts with the first mayoral election in 2000, when the Labour party refused to endorse him as their candidate, forcing Mr Livingstone to run as an independent, beating the official Labour candidate Frank Dobson.

“I am grateful for this opportunity to once more build upon the positive agenda for London,” Mr Livingstone said today.

“I intend to be mayor for all Londoners.”

Mr Livingstone challenged his opponents to address three key issues; economic success, social justice and climate change.

He said: “London’s economy must continue to be successful – economic success is the precondition for everybody’s prosperity and for the distribution of wealth throughout the capital.

“Second, all Londoners must be able to participate in our city’s success, both to achieve social justice and to guarantee a decent quality of life for everyone.

“Third, this success must be sustainable in the long term – which means, above all, dealing with climate change.”

Mr Livingstone also pledged to defend London’s reputation as an international, progressive city. “That means showing no tolerance to any form of racism or intolerance, not only because it is socially just but because it is economically efficient,” he explained.

To this end he said he would campaign to keep the BNP out of the London assembly, but also predicted this area would be a source of conflict with the Conservatives.

He predicted next year’s mayoral election will be a “straight fight” between his own “progressive policies”, and Conservative plans to abolish free bus travel for under-18s.

However, the Tories are yet to endorse a mayoral candidate so it remains uncertain what policies they will pursue.

Senior Conservatives had wanted the former BBC director-general Greg Dyke to stand as their mayoral candidate, but he rejected their offer.

The London Labour Party chairman Len Duvall said today: “Only a couple of weeks ago David Cameron was stabbing his candidates in the back by trying to ditch them in favour of Greg Dyke.

“Whoever is selected as the Tory candidate will be damaged from the start as their leader’s second choice after Cameron’s botched attempt to ditch them.’

The Liberal Democrats are also yet to endorse a candidate.