Multiculturalism has failed London, a Harrow councillor declared as she launched her bid to be the capital's mayor.

Cllr Lurline Champagnie blamed multiculturalism for creating tension among the city's ethnic and religious communities and complication and inefficiency in its government.

Speaking at a rally at Harrow Arts Centre in Uxbridge Road, Hatch End, on Monday evening as she opened her campaign to win the Conservative candidacy for next year's mayoral election, Cllr Champagnie told an audience of supporters drawn from many racial and religious groups: "Multicultrualism divides, it does not harmonise. Multiculturalism holds communities back, it does not empower.

"And the division it casues infects social cohesion, performance in schools, life chances through higher education, choices of career, standards of living and whether or not someone lives where they want or in a house of their own.

"Multiculturalism is the key factor in most areas of social policy - crime, drugs, behaviousal problems, education and health."

She said that the simple reason that these evils and causes of social division were not being tackled effectively by the current Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, was "political correctness".

"I am the Heineken candidate: I reach parts of London other candidates, particularly Ken Livingstone, cannot reach," she said.

"I abhor political correctness. It prevents any discussion or debate about race, inter-race relations and the tensions that exist between groups."

Cllr Champagnie, who served as a Harrow councillor for 20 years and was the borough's first black mayor in 2004-05, said when she came to live in England from Jamaica as a teenager in 1956 she did not expect patronising handouts or any unfair advantage.

"I worked, I worked and I learned," she said. "I developed skills as a specialist nurse, I succeeded and I took on significant responsibility.

"I brought up my family, I started a highly successful business and I have served my community as a councillor for 20 years.

"I have lived a real life... a life and career rooted in the real world, a background with which Londoners identify far more readily than that of the professional politician."

Cllr Champagnie said she was proud to be "Conservative, British and black", in that order. "Blue is the new black," she added.