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Dobson Pips Livingstone
- Blair's man beats left-winger in Labour's London mayor nomination

FORMER Health Secretary Frank Dobson has gained the nomination to be Labour's candidate for London mayor.

Dobson beat off a strong challenge from left-wing Brent East MP, Ken Livingstone. The third candidate, Hampstead MP Glenda Jackson trailed a distant third in the vote. As neither Dobson nor Livingstone obtained more than 50 per cent of the vote in the first 'round', Jackson's second preference votes were distributed between the pair. This left Dobson with 51.53 per cent and Livingstone with 48.47 per cent.

Votes came from three sources within an electoral college. The first third was made up of London Labour Party members, the second London based unions and the final block from London MPs, Euro MPs and nominated candidates for the Greater London Authority. Almost ninety per cent of this final group towed the party line and popped for, Dobson; Prime Minister Tony Blair's preferred candidate. Livingstone gained a clear majority in the membership and union sections but this was not sufficient for him to beat the block vote from the party's elected representatives.

Livingstone was the last leader of London's previous elected body, the Greater London Council, which was abolished by Margaret Thatcher in the mid 1980s. He was left fuming at the result. He accuses Labour's national leadership of fixing the result to ensure their man - Dobson - scraped home. Having gained a majority of the vote in the two popular parts of the college, he invited his successful opponent to stand down in his favour. Holborn and St Pancras MP, Frank Dobson who declared he was delighted with the result, scotched Livingstone's invitation, saying "You must be kidding" at the suggestion.

The Brent East MP may now consider standing as an independent. Although he has ruled out this option in the past it is believed some close advisors will urge him to run. If he chooses that course he and any fellow Labour members supporting him would face certain expulsion from the party.

The election for London Mayor takes place on 4 May 2000. Steven Norris, the former Conservative minister, is the leading non-Labour candidate. He said that the Labour result will divide his opponents and alienate many natural Labour voters. Political lightweight Susan Kramer, a previously unknown Liberal Democrat, fronts the chasing pack which includes a green and a host of independent candidates from punk-fashion guru Malcolm Mclaren to ska star Buster Bloodvessel.

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