Ken Livingstone was selected as Labour’s candidate for the London mayoral election of 2012 today, beating a challenge from former MP Oona King.
The former mayor’s selection sets the scene for a re-run of the 2008 election, when he was ousted by Conservative Boris Johnson after eight years at City Hall.
Mr Livingstone was elected by a ballot of Labour’s 33,000 members in the capital, along with members of organisations affiliated to the party, including the unions.
The 2012 contest will be his fourth tilt at the mayoralty, following successful campaigns in 2000 – when he stood as an independent and became London’s first directly-elected mayor – and 2004, and his unseating at the hands of Mr Johnson two years ago.
As well as giving him an opportunity to avenge that defeat, the 2012 poll has added spice because its victor will represent London at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, which open a few weeks after the election.
The 65-year-old Labour candidate’s history in London politics goes back almost 40 years to 1971, when he was elected to Lambeth Borough Council.
He went on to serve in the Greater London Council, which he led from 1981 until it was abolished by Margaret Thatcher in 1986, earning the nickname “Red Ken” for his left-wing politics.
He was an MP for the constituency East Brent from 1987 to 2000, and was expelled from Labour for a period after standing as an independent in the first mayoral election.
His tenure at City Hall was marked by the introduction of the congestion charge and the Oyster card for public transport users.
Ms King, 42, was a Blairite Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow from 1997 to 2005, when she was defeated by Respect candidate George Galloway in a general election battle dominated by controversy over her support for the Iraq War.