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DOBSON TOLD BLAIR:'KEN STANDS OR I GO'

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Frank Dobson threatened to quit the race for Labour's nomination to be mayor of London last week when it appeared D...
Frank Dobson threatened to quit the race for Labour's nomination to be mayor of London last week when it appeared Downing Street would bar his rival Ken Livingstone from campaigning, reported The Observer (p7).

The prospect of a public rift between Tony Blair and the former health secretary appears to have secrured Mr Livingstone a place on the

shortlist.

Mr Dobson has told friends he is not prepared to be the prime minister's 'sacrificial victim' and that, if necessary, he will repeat the resignation threat when he talks with Mr Blair today on the eve of the selection panel hearings.

Early returns from telephone canvassing by Dobson supporters show him trailing about 10 points behind Livingstone among Labour's 68,000 members in London - with 47% backing the former GLC leader and 37% supporting the former health secretary.

But the Dobson camp claims the gap is closing and has raised the alarm about the impact of barring Livingstone from the shortlist.

Four potential Labour mayoral candidates - Dobson, Livingstone, former transport minister Glenda Jackson and London businessman Ken Baldry - will be interviewed by the panel tomorrow.

The battle to become Labour candidate received a great deal of feature coverage highlighting how the selection process has turned out to be a public relations disaster.

The Independent on Sunday (p15) headlines its background feature timetabling 12 months in which 'the farce unfolded' as 'Blair's dirtiest fight so far'. The Sunday Times (p13) has a feature entitled 'Nightmare in spin city'.

And The Mail on Sunday (pp 40-41) looks across the political divide and asks,under the heading 'Is there anything Ken, Jeffrey, Glenda and Dobbo won't do to become mayor?'

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