Londoners – of all political persuasions, and of none – will have six to choose from this summer when the Labour Party stages its first ever open primary to select its candidate to run for London Mayor in 2016.A panel drawn from the National Executive Committee and the London regional party met at offices near Euston at lunchtime today to interview the candidates who had crossed the required threshold of nominations from at least five constituency parties. There had been speculation that the panel might opt to trim the number going forward, but in the end they included all six surviving candidates to go on to the shortlist.
They are Dame Tessa Jowell, the former cabinet minister in Tony Blair’s government, Sadiq Khan, the MP for Tooting, north London MPs Diane Abbott and David Lammy, Gareth Thomas MP, the chair of the influential Co-Operative movement, and Christian Wolmar, the only candidate who is from outside the Westminster clique.
Dame Tessa, who stood down as the MP for Dulwich and Norwood last month, is widely seen as the Labour Party’s preferred candidate and the favourite to succeed Tory Boris Johnson, the London Mayor since 2008, when the City Hall elections are staged in May next year. Jowell was the only candidate to receive nominations from all three Croydon constituency Labour parties.
Labour’s acting leader, Harriet Harman, said: “Labour’s Mayoral candidate will lead the fight back against the Tories on behalf of Londoners. Who we choose is crucial — and a decision that I want everybody to be involved in making.”
The open primary system being used this year – voting starts on August 14 – was an initiative from the former Labour leader, Ed Miliband, and is based on one-member, one-vote. But it also allows any Londoner to vote if they sign up as a Labour supporter for a £3 fee.Wolmar, a friend of this website who has been campaigning for selection for three years, immediately announced his intention to recruit 10,000 London cyclists as Labour Party members and supporters.
“I’m delighted – and just a bit relieved – to have reached this stage,” he said.
“Running for London Mayor was never just the next career move for me – I genuinely believe that London, and the Labour Party, need a fresh approach to its politics and policies for the capital. And so I thank today’s interview panel on having the vision to include me on the shortlist to enable us to have the broadest possible debate among a wide selection of candidates.
“There are an estimated 400,000 cyclists who use London streets every day. As the Wolmar for London campaign has already shown, we can reach hundreds of cyclists during a single rush hour. With our vision for a more affordable, liveable and sustainable city, we are attracting people to Labour who like our ideas.
“We have a fresh and inspired message that appeals to real Londoners. We’re going to splash our bike spoke cards out across London over the summer, recruiting new supporters and members.”
Wolmar is best known as a journalist, and a foremost expert on public transport. His campaign’s policies include radical schemes to pedestrianise Oxford Street and other major thoroughfares to reduce pollution, to introduce a Vision Zero approach to road safety to reduce the number of fatalities on our roads, a Mayor’s housing authority to deliver tens of thousands of social and truly affordable homes, and for a thorough-going review of London’s bus and Tube fares, including the reintroduction of the Zone 2-6 Travelcard to help reduce fares for those living and working in outer London.
“Many Londoners, and many voters, are tired of the old-style politics. They are keen to support someone who offers them something new, and we’re offering that within traditional Labour values,” Wolmar said.
“It is important to remember that only once in four elections has Labour managed to have its choice elected as the London Mayor. In 2016, we need to have a candidate, and policies, which reflect real Labour values and which will also win the majority of second-preference votes.”The Conservative Party has yet to announce how it will select its candidate to succeed Johnson, who is more than ever a part-time Mayor, having been elected as MP for Uxbridge last month.
Those who have declared their intention to win the Tory candidature include the deeply dull Stephen Greenhalgh, one of Boris’s battalion of Deputy Mayors who has the backing of Croydon’s Assembly Member Steve O’Connell, plus millionaire Ivan Masso and Richmond MP – and another Old Etonian – Zac Goldsmith.
A further Tory candidate to declare this week who seems certain to divide parts of north London is Sol Campbell, the former Spurs and Arsenal footballer.
- The selection for Labour’s candidates to stand for the London Assembly is ongoing over the next couple of weeks, with Croydon and Sutton being an all-woman shortlist, as will be the safe seat of Lambeth and Southwark, where a replacement for Val Shawcross, the former Croydon council leader, is being sought.
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