The Mayor of London – the first big electoral test for LAB’s new leader

The Mayor of London – the first big electoral test for LAB’s new leader


James Burt (TheWhiteRabbit) looks at the contenders


The Labour Candidate

Six Labour candidates made it onto the party’s shortlist: Diane Abbott, Tessa Jowell, Sadiq Khan, David Lammy, Gareth Thomas and Christian Wolmar. One will be chosen by ballot of Labour members and affiliates and announced over the same weekend as the party’s Leader and Deputy Leader – the 12th and 13th of September, so there won’t be an opportunity for one decision to influence the other. Jowell has a considerable lead in the polls over PoliticalBetting favourite Sadiq Khan, boosted by name recognition following the 2012 Olympics.

She has recently been the only one to poll better than Conservative Zac Goldsmith . For this reason whilst she only has a narrow lead in the betting to gain the candidacy (just over evens, compared to Khan’s best price of 13/8) she has opened up a lead in terms of most likely to be next mayor, on Betfair at least  – traditional bookies have them far closer.

Wolmar, Thomas and Abbott are rank outsiders, and the markets don’t believe that Lammy can pull himself up from his moderate polling position in third – neither do I. With the support of several trade unions – and those in the Labour like Margaret Hodge who would prefer an ethnic minority candidate – Khan is in a different position.

The Conservative Candidate

Although the official shortlist has four names – Zac Goldsmith, Andrew Boff, Stephen Greenhalgh and Syed Kamall – all with admirable track records within the Conservatives, Goldsmith remains the runway favourite at anywhere around the 1/10 mark for the nomination. Hustings are due to be held in September for the open primary – with the winner being declared before the end of September (although it isn’t clear whether this will be before or after Labour’s leader is announced), but unless anything significant happens soon, it is all but a foregone conclusion.

Will the national race impact London’s own choice?

With Corbyn surging in the polls to favourite to win the leadership, it is difficult not to believe that his continuing popularity could have some impact on both Labour’s decision about candidate, and their likelihood to win next year.

As regards candidate, true polling for the race is few and far between, and it’s entirely possible that a shift has occurred which hasn’t yet fed through. Certainly, the poor position of natural Corbyn ally Abbott whilst “Progess candidate” and former Blairite Jowell surges ahead seems incongruous with the national picture. Perhaps to some extent therefore the mayoralty lives in a bit of a bubble – but it may yet pop.

As for the mayoralty itself, Labour are well ahead in the betting to replace Johnson (around 1/2), after the latter only just managed to beat veteran Ken Livingstone in 2012. London was also the one area where Labour did reasonably well in this year’s general election.  For those prepared to shop around, backing a combined ticket of Jowell or Khan (or even including Lammy) could return far better – anything up to 9/10.

If Corbyn did take over as leader, then the seven months of his tenure before the election could be enough to establish a surge in the polls – or for the honeymoon well and truly to have ended. Certainly with the consensus being that Corbyn will scare off an important section of the Labour electorate, I believe the Tories are value at anything like their current 2/1 should he win. If however Burnham or Cooper emerges victorious, then Labour must surely be in pole position to take the mayoralty as well, for all the reasons they are ahead at the moment.

Other candidates

No look across the mayoralty would be complete without a look across the other candidates. Whilst winning London might be just too much for Farron’s Lib Dems, the Greens are in no better position, saying they would come close to endorsing Goldsmith, should he stand for the Tories. ()

Similarly George Galloway says he will rejoin Labour under Corbyn () – if they’ll let him – and presumably stand down from the race, as he will if Abbott did somehow win the Labour nomination

It seems likely that their combined effect will be to take some votes away from Labour without making a major impact.

James Burt (TheWhiteRabbit)

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