Lib Dems’ mayoral drive to focus on Livingstone

As the political parties limber up for the London mayoral election, the Liberal Democrats are set to launch a publicity push that criticises Ken Livingstone’s readmission to the Labour Party.

It forms part of Lib Dem efforts to get its candidate, Simon Hughes, elected.

The campaign aims to discredit the alliance of Livingstone – known for his antipathy to President Bush – and Tony Blair, renowned for his close relationship with Bush.

The campaign will feature both Blair and Livingstone in material based on the publicity for hit indie film The Blair Witch Project. The work is reminiscent of the Conservative Party’s ‘demon eyes’ advertising campaign for the 1997 general election.

Liberal Democrat mayoral campaign press officer Richard Stokoe said: ‘One of the things that worked in [last September’s] Brent East by-election was linking Blair with Bush.’

In Brent East, the LibDems took what was then Labour’s 58th safest seat on a swing of nearly 30 per cent.

The campaign, which kicks off next month, will appear on leaflets and viral emails, according to Stokoe.

London mayor Ken Livingstone was suspended from the Labour Party before the first London mayoral elections but was allowed back last month.

Stokoe said: ‘He is a New Labour Party candidate, not a cheeky-chappie independent. He is Blair’s mayor. This is about getting this message across, as well as saying Simon is the only person to beat him.’

In the 1997 general election, a Labour landslide, the Conservative Party used M&C Saatchi to run a controversial ad campaign that depicted Blair with demon-like eyes.

It was the second most complained-about ad in the whole year and helped the Tories rack up a £13m campaign bill, compared with Labour’s £11m and the Lib Dems’ £1.3m.

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