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Ken at a Canter
- Livingstone confirmed as new Mayor

AS WIDELY expected Ken Livingstone today takes up the chains of office as London's first elected Mayor after securing some 42 per cent of the popular vote.

The maverick left-winger, who stood as an independent, said he wanted to work with the government but insisted he would push ahead with legal moves to stop the part-privatisation of the Underground, a policy championed by both Prime Minister Tony Blair and humiliated Labour candidate Frank Dobson.

Clashes between Livingstone and the national government are expected on other fronts, notably the taxation-without-full-representation issue in which Londoners cough up far more in taxes than they get back in government spending. Labour minister David Blunkett has already tried to head off Livingstone's championing of the London cause by claiming that the capital "does not have an identity," a remark which may well come back to haunt him.

Dobson could now be offered a job in the Livingstone administration, but insiders believe the down-hearted former health minister, who struggled to win even third place ahead of lacklustre Liberal Democrat candidate Susan Kramer, will instead lick his wounds on parliament's back benches.

Meanwhile, Tory Party strategists will be able to claim that their bigoted response to the asylum debate paid off. A better than expected showing in the London Mayor race, where Steve Norris scored a just-respectable 26 per cent and a strong performance in the Greater London Assembly election, has given new heart to a party written off by some pundits just a few weeks ago.

The other group with a lot to be smug about after last night's elections were the Greens, who look set to take at least two seats in the GLA and who trounced left rivals, the London Socialist Alliance.

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