Ken Livingstone’ St Patrick’s Day pledge

Ken Livingstone has vowed to reinstate the annual St Patrick’s Day dinner if he is elected London Mayor in 2012.

Mr Livingstone, who last Friday beat Oona King to win the Labour nomination for London Mayor, told the Times he thought Boris Johnson’s decision to axe the annual celebration was offensive.

Speaking from his home in Cricklewood, an area famous for its thriving Irish community, Livingstone said: “I think it is offensive of Boris to cancel At Patrick’s Day dinner.

“It took place every year in Park Lane and was a really popular event for the Irish community in Cricklewood, Kilburn and across London, which actually made a profit.

“We should celebrate London’s multicultural communities and if I am elected I will be reinstating the St Patrick’s Day dinner.”

Boris Johnson scrapped the �150 black tie dinner last year in an efficiency drive.

Livingstone, who was Brent East MP from 1987 to 2001, said he was relishing the prospect of a rematch with Tory Mayor Boris Johnson.

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And he has pledged to spend a full day in every London borough during the campaign canvassing ideas for his manifesto, a move he hopes will put to bed fears that he will only campaign for inner London – a criticism of his last campaign which many believe lost him the election.

He said: “I want a much wider engagement on the manifesto. I will spend a day in every borough talking to local people, traders and councillors, finding out what they want and incorporating that in my manifesto.

“I will be resisting the cuts in police numbers and will fight to keep the Safer Neighbourhood Teams, which I launched in Stonebridge in 2004 and have proved very successful, and I will work with Brent council leader Ann John on this.”

Livingstone has also pledged to keep down public transport costs, and has vowed to reinstate the controversial western extension of the congestion charge to pay for it.

Branding himself as the anti cuts candidate, Livingstone said the mayoral race provided Londoners with the chance to rebuke the Government for its austerity measures.

Although he insisted he would support sensible cuts, and cited military spending as an area which could be trimmed.

And as the campaign for Mayor begins in earnest it is clear Livingstone is relishing a rematch.

Talking about Johnson’s criticism of the housing benefit cap, a Government policy to set a standard limit to the amount of housing allowance paid out regardless of average rents which has provoked a lot of criticism in London, Livingstone said: “It is good of him to join my campaign against the housing benefit cap.

“Each new policy I announce he comes out in favour of. I have got Boris scuttling to the left quicker than a crab can run.”