He’s back: Ken to take on Boris in 2012

By Ian Dunt

Ken Livingstone has been chosen to run against Boris Johnson in the mayoral election of 2012.

He beat Oona King, the former Bethnal Green and Bow MP by 68.6% to 31.4%.

“I want to say thanks to Oona King for giving members a choice. I promise now to steal all your best policies,” Mr Livingstone said.

The former mayor quickly took to the fight to the incumbent, branding his administration a “failure”.

Analysis: Can Ken beat Boris?

“Never underestimate him [Mr Johnson]. He thrives on being underestimated,” Mr Livingstone said.

“There’s a reason he sticks up for bankers. He is well funded. Boris Johnson will try to divide Londoners between inners and outers.

“London can’t afford another four years of cuts, higher fares and broken promises.

“We will protect the fare payers. I promise that under my administration fares will always be lower than if Boris Johnson is elected for another term. We will pay for that by extending the western extension of the congestion zone.”

He continued: “If you want to get them [Conservatives] out you start by getting out Boris Johnson

“Boris, your finger prints are all over the scene of this crime. In 2012 you and your government will have hurt many people.”

Acting Labour leader Harriet Harman, who presided over the announcement, said: “The whole of team Labour will be backing you, Ken.”

Mr Livingstone won 32.97% support from London Labour party members and 35.634% of the vote of individual members of organisations affiliated to the London Labour party.

Ms King won just 17.03 support from London Labour party members and 14.366% support from individual members of organisations affiliated to the London Labour party.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Ken has a great record in defending public services and improving the pay and living standards of low paid workers and we look forward to working with him.

“Ken’s drive and commitment to London and Londoners will be needed in the economic challenges that face the capital in the coming years.””

A recent ComRes poll found Mr Johnson remained more popular than either of them combined. While 27% of Londoners favoured Mr Livingstone and nine per cent Ms King, The Tory incumbent was on 45%.

The survey shows increased support for Mr Johnson since he narrowly beat Mr Livingstone to City Hall in 2008.

But it also revealed his reliance on outer London voters, among whom he has a 28-point lead over Mr Livingstone. In central London they are neck-and-neck.

William Hill gave Boris Johnson odds of 8/11, Mr Livingstone 1/1 and Lembit Opik, potential Lib dem candidate, 33/1.

The result comes a day before that of Labour leader, which will be announced in Manchester ahead of the party conference.