'Red' Scare for Blair

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LONDON: What do novelist Jeffrey Archer, Oscar-winning actress Glenda Jackson and Virgin entrepreneur Richard Branson have in common? Answer: They all have the opportunity to fulfill their dream to become the first Lord Mayor of London elected by a popular vote, after the British capital voted late Thursday in favor of having one. Another thing they have in common -- Londoners donít want them.

Neither the three celebrities that have declared their intentions, nor former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten -- another potential candidate for mayor -- are anywhere near the top of early opinion polls. First in Londonís heart is ďRedĒ Ken Livingstone, the extreme-left-wing ex-council leader whom Mrs. Thatcher ousted in the early '80s. Red Kenís elevation to the new job would be an enormous embarrassment for Tony Blair, who has renounced the old-style socialism that his Labor colleague Livingstone still sticks up for. The election is set for late 1999 -- and if opinions stay the same, it will be a greater spectacle than the Millennium Dome.

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