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BANKS SLAMS LIVINGSTONE RULE

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Tony Banks has promised an olive branch to both the city's boroughs and Whitehall as his campaign to fight Ken Livi...
Tony Banks has promised an olive branch to both the city's boroughs and Whitehall as his campaign to fight Ken Livingstone gets under way.

The Labour MP announced his decision last week to seek his party's nomination to stand against his former political soulmate in the 2004 London mayoral ballot.

Mr Banks said he wanted to draw on his long record serving the people of London in local government, in both Lambeth and the Greater London Council, where he was the last chair.

'I was the person who put forward the idea of having an elected mayor for London in 1990 and I remember Ken Livingstone himself saying it would not work,' he said.

'The fact is I've been connected in one way or another with the idea throughout.'

Promising to put delivery before headlines, he emphasised he wanted to repair damaged bridges in order to win more powers for the city, which he admitted would not arrive 'overnight'.

'London needs a much greater ability to raise funds within London,' he said.

But pressed if this meant it should have tax raising powers similar to the Scottish Parliament, he side stepped the question.

'There's a whole series of ideas that can be put forward that are not necessarily tax- raising powers. I'm not going to say I can only run London if I can tax London.'

He continued: 'In order to get the extra powers there has to be trust between the Greater London Authority and Whitehall. For the whole thing to work, there needed to be a period of consolidation but unfortunately that hasn't happened.'

Mr Banks said he speaks of his possible opponent 'more in sorrow than anger' and at one stage proposed him as Labour leader. But Mr Livingstone's lack of loyalty and pursuit of his own agenda has always prevented him being a truly effective politician, he argued.

Though light on detailed policy, he has an idea of the management style he wants to adopt. The office of a future mayor Banks would, he said, run London 'in a three way partnership with the boroughs and Whitehall. But it's not all just about Whitehall'.

But first he must win over the Labour Party before he can take on the mayor.

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