Indophile Ken to run again for London mayor

Livingstone, who was London mayor from 2000 to 2008, set up trade offices in Mumbai and Delhi, but the offices were closed down after Johnson took over as the mayor after he won the mayoral elections in 2008.

Livingston is likely to re-open the India offices if he is re-elected. "I want to see every Indian firm looking to the west to see London as its natural base of operations," he told a meeting of the Labour Friends of India.

Announcing the nomination result today, Labour Party acting leader Harriet Harman told Livingstone: "The whole of Team Labour will be backing you. And I have no doubt you will win the backing of communities across London."

The next London mayor will have a key role in the 2012 London Olympics. Business leaders had warned that closing the offices in the cities of Mumbai and Delhi would send out the wrong signals to potential investors.

Colin Stanbridge, chief of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said: "It is essential that we maintain offices in Delhi and Mumbai so that we can continue to market London in one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. If we are not out there selling London as the best place in the world to do business, our international rivals will be more than happy to fill the vacuum."

Calling Johnson's administration 'disastrous', Livingstone said: "When we defeat Boris we will have played a part in rebuilding the Labour Party after the general election.

Everywhere you look Boris has broken promises and taken his axe to services Londoners rely on."

Livingstone said the current mayor's fingerprints were "all over the scene of the crime" of current cuts, and added: "We won't let Boris get away with saying he is not to blame. It is a con trick."

Johnson, a former journalist and columnist, did not comment on Livingstone's nomination, but his deputy, Kit Malthouse, quipped: "Choosing to exhume Ken Livingstone is a very odd decision. Granted he is a game old boy - but we assumed Labour would choose the future, not the past."

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