Can either party get anybody to take on Ken?
Tonight’s extraordinary story about the joint Lib Dem and Tory approach to Greg Dyke to run against Ken Livingstone for the London mayoralty shows what a mess the two main opposition parties have got over next year’s London Mayoral elections.
For both of them have had real problems finding decent candidates who are prepared to give up maybe 10 months for a prolonged campaign up to May next year. Nobody of any substance in either party, it appears, wants to take on the challenge.
On the face of it this seems crazy. Labour are in such a poor state compared with four years ago that given the alternative vote electoral system that is in place then the Tory or LD challengers must stand a chance.
Last time in 2004 when Labour was riding high in the polls the Tories had a substantial lead in the voting on the same day for the Greater London Assembly. The trouble was that many of these voters decided not to go with Steve Norris and switched their allegiance to the Labour candidate.
Given that this is by far the election with the biggest electorate anywhere in the UK it really looks crazy if suitable candidates cannot be found. But who can blame them? Ken is popular and it is hard to see him do anything but beat off any challenge.
Knowing Greg Dyke well from the University of York where he is Chancellor I think he would do brilliantly in the role. Alas it appears that this idea is now dead.