Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Victory for Nicky Gavron

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Victory for Nicky Gavron

Article excerpt

WE CONGRATULATE Nicky Gavron, who was yesterday named Labour candidate for Mayor of London. She fought a spirited campaign to defeat by a convincing margin her higher profile rival, the former Sports Minister Tony Banks. Ms Gavron is intelligent, well-intentioned, has worked hard as Deputy Mayor and contributes significantly to the host of public bodies on which she sits. London politics needs serious-minded people who thoroughly understand their subjects and devote such energy to pursuing their goals. However, her selection raises fundamental issues about the process of democracy in the capital. First, the election Ms Gavron won had major flaws that will undermine her candidacy. She owed the size of her victory to the block vote of trades unions. It is unsatisfactory that, after all the battles inside the Labour Party during the 1990s over the principle of One Member One Vote, it still holds elections for important positions in which the unions retain half the votes. Second, Ms Gavron has made a nonaggression pact with Ken Livingstone, with whom, as his deputy, she has worked closely. This may have seemed like clever tactics by Ms Gavron to win the Labour nomination - an indication of the continuing influence Mr Livingstone has inside the Party which ejected him. But it is a stitch-up that effectively disenfranchises many loyal Labour supporters and Londoners in general who might want a credible centre-left alternative to Ken. It is little surprise that the loudest cheerleader for Ms Gavron was the Mayor - her nomination has almost certainly eased his path to re-election in 2004. Ms Gavron has a record of public service that commands respect.

However, she has a struggle ahead to persuade the public that she has the political clout to make a serious bid for power in London on a platform of her own ideas.

Ken's bitter cup

THE COMPLEX and bitter debate about the Public-Private Partnership initiative to fund the Tube, may have passed right over the heads of many people whom it affects most, namely London's commuters. For most Tube passengers, what matters is to have a reliable and efficient service. …

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