London might be a Labour city but it has only won the mayoralty once

London might be a Labour city but it has only won the mayoralty once


Contenders need to be able to reach out beyond their party bases

One of the biggest UK political battles and what will certainly be a big political betting event will be next year’s race for the London will between Zac Goldsmith for the Blues and Sadiq Khan for the Reds.

This will be the fifth time there’s been such an elections and so far CON has won two, LAB one and independent one. The latter, of course, was Ken in 2000 when he stood against the official LAB candidate, Frank Dobson, after failing to win the party’s nomination. In the end Dobson came in third with Ken victorious.

Four years later Blair persuaded Ken to rejoin the party a move that was very much opposed by Gordon Brown. Ken, of course, won what for him was a second term and for Labour a first.

I highlight this to make the point that mayoral elections are far less about parties than other sorts of votes. For both Ken in 2000 and 2004 and Boris in 2008 and 2012 won because they were able to reach out way beyond their party’s normal bases.

We can see this by comparing the mayoral results with the GLA elections which are held at the same time.

Next May Zac Goldsmith, a champion of environmental causes, looks set to eat into the Green party support either as first or a second preference. There is, just to recall, a limited form of AV in place with voters able to indicate a second choice.

Sadiq could pick up significant extra support from the capital’s large Asian communities and certainly there’s been polling to indicate that this might happen. Both Zac and Sadiq are opposed to Heathrow expansion.

A big unknown is what’ll happen to the UKIP vote which although smaller than in other parts of England could be significant. It’s hard to see many purple second preferences going to either Sadiq or Zac.

Currently Sadiq is odds on favourite.

Mike Smithson

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