THE SHORTLIST of Labour candidates for London mayor will be announced in two weeks time on 16 November. Tony Blair wants Labour's candidate to be in place before Christmas.
Ken Livingstone, unlike Frank Dobson and Glenda Jackson, is the only Labour candidate opposed to the privatisation of London Underground. This is the main reason why opinion polls show that the overwhelming majority of Londoners would vote for Livingstone if they were given the chance. But Blair and his cronies are doing everything they can to block Livingstone. Even Glenda Jackson, who was a minister in Blair's cabinet, complained that the selection procedure had the appearance of a 'stitch up'.
Labour's candidate is being selected using the electoral college system. One Labour MP told the Times, 'The electoral college has nothing to do with democracy. It has everything to do with keeping Ken out.' Under this system a single Labour MP's vote will be worth 900 ordinary party members' votes or 5,720 union members' votes.
Already almost every MP, MEP and regional candidate has declared their support for Frank Dobson. This gives Dobson about half the votes needed to win outright. But even that is not enough for Blair. The London Evening Standard revealed that Labour Party HQ is urging all London's 57 Labour MPs to write to their constituency members urging them to vote for Dobson.
Sadly Brian Sedgemore, Labour MP for Hackney, and Tottenham MP Bernie Grant have announced that they will be backing Dobson. Bernie Grant claimed that Ken Livingstone did not take racism seriously enough. But even critics of the GLC admit that it took anti-racism seriously.
Every major union in London will be balloting its members to decide which candidate to back for mayor – except the AEEU. Ken Jackson, the right wing leader of the AEEU, says he will back Dobson. The AEEU has about 50,000 members in London, about 10 percent of the union vote. AEEU electricians are already campaigning to demand every London AEEU member gets a vote.
What you can do
1) Get your union branch to back Ken Livingstone.
2) Produce leaflets and posters urging people to vote for Livingstone.
3) Get your union branch or region to organise hustings for all three Labour candidates to attend. This will provide a brilliant opportunity for workers to question the candidates. Rail unions ASLEF and RMT have called a joint hustings meeting in November.
4) Organise petitions at work or in your local high street in support of Livingstone. If your local Labour MP is backing Dobson, why not take the petitions along to their surgery and show them that people do want an alternative to Blair's Tory policies?
Fight for socialist policies
EVERYONE should support Ken Livingstone's campaign to become Labour's candidate for London mayor. But it is also vital that everyone fights for socialist policies. These must include: