By Joseph Willits
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According to today's Independent there are several rumours going around that Labour wish to ditch Ken Livingstone as the party's candidate for Mayor of London, replacing him with Alan Johnson. The rumours have most likely come about after a poll suggested that one in 5 Labour voters would prefer Boris Johnson as mayor, which has inevitably worried the party.
Over recent months Livingstone has become even more of a liability to Labour, and his comments on the August riots being due to spending cuts angered many and made him seem significantly out of touch.
In comments made to the Independent, Livingstone admitted that Alan Johnson was a "lovely fellow" but was not "ruthless, relentless, and driven" enough to fight against Boris Johnson and become London's mayor. He said he thought the contest would be fought over issues of competence, conceding he lacked in the charisma stakes compared to Boris. However, Livingstone said that the election would depend on name recogniton.
In the same way that the Labour party must be assessing Ed Miliband's ability as leader, considering whether to bloody him in an election or replace him, the same can be said of Livingstone. Livingstone may be right that Alan Johnson would be too low profile to fight Boris, but he remains ignorant to significant anti-Ken feeling across London. Current polls suggest Livingstone will be defeated unless he can turn the contest into a referendum on the Coalition.
Perhaps in order to stop the plot against him, Livingstone also heaped praised on Ed Miliband, comparing the Labour leader to John Smith:
"He reminds me much more of John Smith than other Labour leaders. He is focused on what he believes, and he is not obsessed with the media. I think there is a real parallel. I think Smith would have directed the greatest Labour government since Attlee's, and I think Ed Miliband has got the potential to do that."