Olive branch: Ken offers Oona a job

Ken Livingstone tried to patch things up with his Labour rival for mayoral candidate today with an offer of a job for Oona King if he wins the elections.

The former Bethnal Green and Bow MP lost her bid to run as London mayor to Ken, despite picking up widespread praise for an enthusiastic campaign.

Many analysts believed her youth and mixed race background made her the ideal Labour candidate for the capital.

Instead, she looks set to become Ken's 'young people's champion' if he secures the nomination for City Hall.

"I was consistently impressed by Oona's ideas to help young Londoners during the Labour selection contest," Ken said.

"I told her then I'd steal her best policies – now I've gone further, asking her to lead on our work with London's young people and I'm delighted that she's agreed."

Ms King added: "I want to do everything I can to help young Londoners by working with Ken as part of a Labour team that makes Londoners better off."

The Labour candidate's promises to young Londoners includes a commitment to restore the education maintenance allowance in the capital, providing safe places to people threatened by gangs and a London apprenticeship offer.

London's Labour campaigners are in an optimistic mood after opinion polls saw Ken drawing neck-and-neck with Boris Johnson, following a difficult period in which he lost support amid recurring questions about his tax returns.

Some analysts believe the current negative coverage around the coalition, which ratcheted up a notch due to the return to recession and the Jeremy Hunt controversy, could have an adverse affect on the Conservative incumbent.