The Thick of It

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Labour mayoral candidate

There has been a great deal of comment following yesterday's post among email subscribers about the "feeling" among London's Labour Party members about whether Oona, Ken or someone else should be the candidate.

One point, made previously is that the selection is taking place too soon. There is plenty of time to select a candidate with the next mayoral elections taking place in almost two years time. If we waited I doubt we'd find new candidates. I don't expect that a new, high profile candidate would "emerge" when many suggested names, such as Alan Johnson, ruled themselves out. There are almost two years for whichever candidate to build a campaign, oppose the Tories, gain media profile and propose their own programme.

Ken Livingstone is a formidable opponent with three decades behind him at the top of the London Labour Party. That King has forced him to not only work hard for his support but has also shown that London Labour might also want a change is a significant achievement. There is no doubt that support for Ken remains strong, but the same is true for Oona. My experience of her campaign is quite different from that suggested in Paul Sagar's blog. I wasn't at the event on Tuesday. The real proof of this, whichever way it goes will be in the result in September.

I also find it unfortunate and unhelpful to both candidates when the "old Labour" and "new Labour" terms are bandied about. One could easily argue that Ken is both old and new, being on the left of the party but having stayed close to Sir Ian Blair or having worked with many private companies to secure investment in London when mayor. Oona is younger and supported many of new Labour's policies but has a firm background as a trade unionist when I thought new Labour was meant to be weak on unions? There is balance to both sides. Both are Labour and that is all that matters.

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