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Blogs Coffee House

A look at Labour’s London line-up

8 January 2014

10:04 AM

8 January 2014

10:04 AM

The open primary to choose the 2016 Labour candidate for London Mayor is a dot on horizon; but speculation is underway. Mr Steerpike has been reading the form.

Tessa Jowell, the former Olympics minister and outgoing MP for Dulwich, had a busy festive period: turning on the waterworks and displaying signs of Tourettes in this Guardian interview. Here is what she said in response to a question about those pressmen who say that her estrangement from her husband David Mills during his run-in with the Italian courts was manufactured:

‘Frankly, you know, those arseholes are so fucking rancid that I just hope every morning they wake up and think: ‘I’m ashamed of the job I do.’ To say that somehow I got up one morning and thought, ‘You know what I’m going to do today, I think I’m going to separate from my husband?’ Fuck off. There was a toe rag who slept in his little white van outside my house for six days, and it was doing my head in by the end of it. And for five days I was intimidated. And then I was coming out to go to the gym at eight o’clock on a Saturday morning, and there he was with his fucking, you know, penis-like lens, waving out of the window. Oh, it’s disgusting. And I went and I banged on the roof of his minivan and I said: “You fuck off out of here in 10 minutes or I’m calling the police.”’ 

Dame Tessa might need to work on that splenetic answer, because this topic will be revisited time and again if, as expected, she runs for City Hall.

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Another well-fancied cove is the shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan. The MP for Tooting has a compelling backstory, and was the first Muslim to join the Cabinet. But he may face some awkward questions about his association with Babar Ahmad, who pleaded guilty to terror charges in the US last month. Khan visited Ahmed in prison three times between 2004 and 2006. His last two visits were in a personal capacity under the Approved Visitors Scheme for Category A Prisoners: Khan and Ahmed were boyhood pals, you see. But Khan’s first visit was in a legal capacity. Incidentally, a government inquiry (called to examine why the last two visits were bugged by spooks) concluded that it did ‘not appear’ that Ahmed had instructed Khan as his solicitor.

Sketch-writers will be praying that Diane Abbott joins the fray. The TV star and part-time MP for Hackney was the joke candidate in the Labour leadership election and she has been linked with this race ever since her demotion from Labour’s frontbench. She denies any such ambition, of course.

If the lovely Diane stays true to her word, perhaps we can rely on David Lammy for entertainment. The man who was once described as ‘Britain’s answer to Barack Obama’ is said to be interested in running for mayor. Bill de Basio coasted to victory in New York recently with his ‘two cities’ campaign theme. Lammy, on the other hand, says: ‘London is a great city but while its economy works for some Londoners, it doesn’t work for all of them. It is a tale of two cities.’ Genius!

Transport is always at the centre of any London mayoral election because it’s one of the few areas that the mayor controls, so there might be some value in having a candidate who knows what they are talking about, transport-wise. Enter stage-Blairite, Lord Adonis. His ghostly pallor, baldness and arachnid frame do not exactly scream of electability; but it is hard to find any politico who dislikes this amiable brainiac. Perhaps his lordship will break the habit of a lifetime at last and stand for high office. We can but hope. Transport journalist Christian Wolmar has already thrown his hat into the ring, so the wonks are likely to trigger some interesting debate even if more a charismatic soul wins the day.

London is a Labour city and Boris has promised, for now, not to fight another term. It should be a walkover for one of the Labourites, so long as they don’t rip too many limbs off of each other in the long hard slog to the finish line…

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