Candidates clash over tax, trust and rickshaws at mayoral debate

KEN Livingstone could not escape the debate over his tax affairs as income arrangements dominated the agenda at last night’s mayoral hustings.

A rowdy Westminster audience gave the biggest cheer of the night to an attack on the Labour candidate’s choice to pay himself through a private company.

“The law allows you to do that. So why should we be complaining? Because Ken condemned other people for doing exactly the same thing,” said Lib Dem Brian Paddick.

Boris Johnson continued to attack his main opponent’s funding proposals, saying: “This election is about trust. I won’t make promises I can’t keep. Ken needs to level with London about where the money is coming from.”

Meanwhile Livingstone did his best to redefine the election as a referendum on the government, saying: “If Boris Johnson is re-elected then we will see George Osborne and David Cameron on television that night, saying that this is a vote of confidence in the way they are taking Britain.”

One of the few areas of agreement was on rickshaws, with both Livingstone and Paddick promising to ban the vehicles.

Minor candidates tried to muscle in, with Independent Siobhan Benita protesting outside the venue at her exclusion from the debate, which was organised by the Evening Standard.

The BNP’s Carlos Cortiglia, a Uruguayan immigrant, spent much of the event waving a newspaper in the air in an attempt to attract attention while UKIP supporters heckled repeatedly.