You know when a candidate is losing when they start to blame the rules of the game. We don’t get more proof than in London right now. Len Duvall, a backer of Tessa Jowell’s bid to be Labour mayoral candidate, has publicly warned of the dangers of muslims and trade union members registering to vote in the Labour mayoral selection. He questioned whether this was in the ‘spirit’Â of the contest.
It may be shameless but Len knows what he is doing here. In bringing up the threat of mosques and unions Duvall is knowingly stirring up the worst type of anxieties in the Evening Standard. To use this against a muslim opponent is far from subtle and is grim politics.
One of Sadiq Khan’s themes has been unity. He has won the support of old foes Oona King and Ken Livingstone. Margaret Hodge on the right of the party is backing Sadiq Khan as well as left-led unions such as GMB, Unite and UCATT.Â Duvall’s crude and clumsy intervention for the Jowell campaign only highlights Khan’s momentum and position as a unity candidate.
Foreign policy matters have always been a domestic concern in such a multicultural city as London. Jowell once famously pledged to ‘throw herself under a bus’ for Tony Blair. Her loyalty to Blair was in some ways admirable but could now prove to be an even bigger handicap.
If Jeremy Corbyn’s unexpected leadership bid inspires several thousand anti-war Londoners to register as Labour supporters in order to vote for him in the Labour leadership that will surely be bad news for Tessa. Few of these voters will side with Jowell who was in the Cabinet when Blair’s government decided to take the country to war in Iraq in 2003. Wherever registered Labour supporters come from, the more people that get involved in the process the harder it is for veteran insiders like Duvall to game the contest for their candidate.
In March 2013 I recommendedÂ backing Sadiq Khan at 33/1 to be the next London mayor. He’s currently in pole position to win the Labour nomination. Len Duvall’s divisive and desperate intervention suggests the Jowell camp know this too.
Henry G Manson
Response from Mr Duval
If you read the Evening Standard article it is clear I didn’t give any impression that association with mosques or unions is bad thing as you imply. Labour candidates should be reaching out to all Londoners.
As the article says I was asked a question by the journalist and said only that everyone should stick to rules and that it would be damaging if candidates didn’t enter into the selection in spirit it was set up – to encourage as many individual Londoners as possible, from all backgrounds, to participate and have their say.
It seems you are looking for a row where there is none and that your real problem is that I am backing Tessa.