Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/143/7727
BLAIR'S "stop Ken" bandwagon
BLAIR'S "STOP Ken' bandwagon went into top gear after polls revealed Livingstone's massive lead over Frank Dobson in the race to be Labour's candidate for mayor.
Even the Mirror had the headline 'Dead as a Dobbo'. Their opinion poll showed Dobson with just 3% support, so they're campaigning for the more popular Mo Mowlam to enter the race.
Blair and Co are shoring up Dobson's flagging campaign. Dobson complains that he's carrying the can for growing disillusionment with Blair's government.
Blair is attending anti-Livingstone 'question and answer' sessions with Labour Party members. Both Blair and Brown faced frequent heckling from the audience at a meeting of 1,400 Labour Party members called to attack Livingstone and the GLC's policies.
Dobson's camp seized on Livingstone's jokey comments in the The Face magazine that he supported the direct action protest in Seattle, to suggest he supported violent rioting.
Given the ferocity of Blairite opposition to Livingstone, how will Blair be able to support Livingstone as Labour candidate? He has spent months warning voters against him.
The first official opinion poll of London Labour Party members shows overwhelming support for Livingstone, 63%, against Dobson's 25%. Livingstone also leads in the trade union section.
However, across the electoral college the result, due on 21 February, will be close with Livingstone on 49% and Dobson, with majority support in the MP section, on 46%.
Interestingly the same poll shows that most people support Livingstone standing as an independent if he fails to win the nomination.
Livingstone publicly says he won't stand against the official Labour candidate. He described Labour's Blairite candidates for the assembly top-up list as "not the best eleven", but incredibly admits he'd like former Times editor Simon Jenkins, and Tony Travers of the LSE as part of his cabinet.
Rather than looking to right-wing academics and being shackled by a Blairite manifesto, Livingstone should use the support he has to mount an independent challenge to New Labour.
In The Socialist 28 January 2000: