Abbott throws weight behind Ken

By Alex Stevenson

Labour leadership candidate Diane Abbott has given her support to left-wing diehard Ken Livingstone for the coming London mayoral race.

Ms Abbott, the only one of five Labour leadership candidates representing the left wing of the party, was quoted by the MayorWatch blog as saying Mr Livingstone’s “experience and knowledge of London politics” would be an “asset” for the city “in these difficult times”.

He faces a challenge from former Bethnal Green and Bow MP Oona King for the Labour nomination to challenge incumbent Conservative Boris Johnson.

“All over London there are examples of how the approach Ken has taken delivers improvements for Londoners, from free bus travel for under-18s to neighbourhood policing,” Ms Abbott said.

“Politics under a new government is changing for the worse and we need a mayor who knows London and will protect Londoners from the recession and the government’s attacks.”

Ms Abbott’s decision to back Mr Livingstone comes as six out of Labour’s eight London Assembly members backed the former mayor, who won two terms in City Hall before being ousted by Mr Johnson in 2008.