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Nick, Steve & Susan

ANALYSIS

Three months ago London (and construction) minister Nick Raynsford, speaking to an NCE reporter, denied categorically that he would be standing for election as the capital's mayor. Something has obviously happened to change his mind, as he is due to launch his campaign within weeks.

The talk among the lobby correspondents is that Raynsford has been encouraged to seek election by a Labour Government fearful of Ken Livingstone and unimpressed by Glenda Jackson and Trevor Phillips.

NCE tends to agree with Number 10's view. Jackson was, surprisingly, uninspired and uninspiring as London transport minister, while Phillips' ideas smack of back of the envelope calculations by an inexperienced political operator. Livingstone is a man who instinctively realises the importance of investing in London's transport infrastructure, but he would find himself mired in constant battles with central Government.

Tomorrow we should know who the Tory candidate is. We can only hope it is Steve Norris (another who has transport high on his agenda), rather than Jeffrey Archer, whose nomination would demonstrate that the Tories have learned nothing in the last two years.

The Lib Dem candidate, Susan Kramer, has the right credentials, but little high level political experience.

Which leaves Raynsford. Construction has grown to admire and like him. His position as London minister has put him close to most of the issues affecting the capital.

It is not usually NCE's job to weigh up the relative merits of political rivals. However it could be argued that the London mayor is the individual with the greatest direct control over infrastructure investment and operation in the UK.

This will be best served by a contest between Raynsford, Norris and Kramer.

. . . and for those in the regions who believe too much attention goes to London, NCE prescribes a trip to the new Berlin so that they can better understand how much of a nation's self-worth is manifested by its capital.

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