As I and others have noted in the past month, Labour are in a bit of a pickle at present. Stephen Bush at the New Statesman gave a fascinating breakdown of the psephological mountain Labour have to climb in order to win the next general election. And that’s before you take into account the new boundaries. Add to this the impeding sense of the party being on the verge of selecting another unelectable leader and it looks even worse.
But hey, there’s always London. A Labour stronghold, many see Boris Johnson’s two terms as mayor as a combination of BoJo’s charisma plus Livingston’s toxicity only. But looking at the race at present, I don’t think Labour is anywhere near nailed on to get London “back”.
Sol Campbell has now entered the contest to be the Tory candidate. He’s famous, a footballer and BME. That’s actually a pretty deadly combination to have in a Conservative candidate when you really consider it. Yes, he’ll suffer from the “he’s not a real choice, is he?” type jibes due to his total lack of political experience, but in an age of anti-politics that could backfire on Labour.
Then you have Zac Goldsmith. If I could create human life from nothing and was tasked with making the world’s most perfect Tory candidate for London mayor, I’d probably create Zac Goldsmith. He’s the right combination of everything: pro-business yet passionately environmental; socially liberal; pro-reform yet sceptical of anything that looks like a big leap into the unknown (except on Europe, of course, but that’s a blind spot he shares with many of his fellow Tories. This could also be Goldsmith’s weak spot in the contest, should he get the nomination).
When you put Goldsmith or Campbell up against Jowell or Khan, it suddenly looks like it could be a pretty close run thing. Close enough for the campaigns and how they are run to become all important. It should be fun to watch anyhow. Unless Ken decides to run again and then the Tories will definitely win, obviously, but that’s mercifully looking very unlikely.
Coming back to an article I wrote a couple of weeks ago, Labour not being able to win in London, again, if that ended up being the case, should be a serious worry to them. Having said that, losing almost all of Scotland and watching the Tories hoover up constituencies in the aftermath of a Lib Dem collapse should have been a serious worry to them too – and yet look at where we are.