London: Ken Livingstone, the charismatic
former mayor of London who set up trade offices in India
during his tenure, has won the Labour party`s nomination to
contest the mayoral elections in 2012 against the current
Conservative mayor Boris Johnson.
Livingstone, who was London mayor from 2000 to 2008,
set up trade offices in Mumbai and Delhi, but the offices were
closed down after Johnson took over as the mayor after he won
the mayoral elections in 2008.
Livingston is likely to re-open the India offices if
he is re-elected.
"I want to see every Indian firm looking to the west
to see London as its natural base of operations," he told a
meeting of the Labour Friends of India.
Announcing the nomination result today, Labour Party
acting leader Harriet Harman told Livingstone: "The whole of
Team Labour will be backing you. And I have no doubt you will
win the backing of communities across London."
The next London mayor will have a key role in the 2012
Business leaders had warned that closing the offices
in the cities of Mumbai and Delhi would send out the wrong
signals to potential investors.
Colin Stanbridge, chief of the London Chamber of
Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said: "It is essential that we
maintain offices in Delhi and Mumbai so that we can continue
to market London in one of the fastest-growing economies in
the world. If we are not out there selling London as the best
place in the world to do business, our international rivals
will be more than happy to fill the vacuum."
Calling Johnson`s administration `disastrous`,
Livingstone said: "When we defeat Boris we will have played a
part in rebuilding the Labour Party after the general
election. Everywhere you look Boris has broken promises and
taken his axe to services Londoners rely on."
Livingstone said the current mayor`s fingerprints were
"all over the scene of the crime" of current cuts, and added:
"We won`t let Boris get away with saying he is not to blame.
It is a con trick."
Johnson, a former journalist and columnist, did not
comment on Livingstone`s nomination, but his deputy, Kit
Malthouse, quipped: "Choosing to exhume Ken Livingstone is a
very odd decision. Granted he is a game old boy - but we
assumed Labour would choose the future, not the past."