Labour Names Former Incumbent Livingstone as 2012 London Mayor Candidate

The U.K. Labour Party named former London mayor Ken Livingstone as its candidate to run against Conservative incumbent Boris Johnson in 2012.

Livingstone beat rival candidate Oona King with 68.8 percent of the vote in a ballot of London Labour Party members, the party said in an announcement in the British capital today.

The result sets up a rerun of the 2008 election, which ended Livingstone’s eight years as mayor. The former Labour Party lawmaker, 65, says he will campaign on a promise to protect public services and keep down transportation fares.

“If you want to get this government out you start by taking out Boris Johnson,” Livingstone said in a speech after winning the nomination. “Everywhere you look Boris has broken promises and taken his ax to services that Londoners rely on.”

Livingstone, a London politician since 1973 and, like Johnson, well-known around Britain, was nicknamed “Red Ken” by popular newspapers in the 1980s, when he ran the Greater London Council.

The council, the city’s government at the time, was abolished by then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in 1986, after battles with Livingstone over issues such as London Underground fares and his positioning of a banner showing London’s rising unemployment figures on County Hall, the GLC headquarters, across the Thames river from Parliament. The mayor’s office was created in 2000 by then-Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Livingstone lost the 2008 election with 42.6 percent of the vote compared to 48.4 percent for Johnson.

King, 42, a former Labour lawmaker for Bethnal Green and Bow in east London, had modeled herself as a break from Labour’s past. She said in a speech in May to mark the start of her campaign that the Labour Party should look to the future and “it’s not time to hark back to old battles.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Thomas Penny in London at tpenny@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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