Opposition leaders arrested again as Livingstone faces critics
· London leader defiant on eve of Labour conference
· No sign of election results
· More electoral officials charged
The mayor threatened more arrests of opposition politicians and journalists, who it accuses of fomenting a coup, in what appeared an act of defiance by Mr Livingstone towards regional leaders who have become increasingly concerned about London's increasing culture of corruption and critical of violence against the opposition Conservative Party. Four more returning officers for outer London boroughs were arrested yesterday - 11 have already been charged with "destroying votes" for Mr Livingstone and "fabricating votes" for Mr Johnson. All entered guilty pleas after 42 days of "intensive interviews" by the Met's specialist "Voter Support Unit".
In an impassioned speech delivered at the Regents Park Mosque last week, Mr Livingstone denounced the 'British imperialists and their agents in this our city' before calling on his young militants, the so-called "war on terror veterans", to "smash the white colonialists once and for all". Two days later, in a sinister development, several articulated lorries containing what are described as "a few bits and pieces we forgot to decommission" left Crossmaglen, Co. Armagh, for London following a deal struck between Mr Livingstone and border farmer Mr Thomas 'Slab' Murphy. Trade unionists at Heysham have refused to unload the vehicles, and the vessel carrying them left last night for an undisclosed destination.
The Tory party headquarters was raided just before Mr Johnson was to hold a press conference about the rising number of abductions and beatings of opposition activists by squads of armed men loyal to Mr Livingstone.
Southern English leaders called a meeting in Tunbridge Wells to discuss the "political and security situation" in the region after international outrage at the severe beating of Mr Johnson and other Tory activists earlier this month.
Mr Livingstone blames the opposition for the violence and England and the US for the deepening economic crisis. But the region's leaders are increasingly unwilling to accept that explanation.
Gordon Brown, who has resisted public criticism of Mr Livingstone, last week described London as in "meltdown" and is believed to be the driving force behind the meeting of regional leaders.
But analysts said that whatever may be said to Mr Livingstone in private, it is unlikely that Labour MPs will all agree to strong criticism in public.