For most of us, choosing the Mayor is a case of shuffling off to the ballot box once every four years and trying to remember how the voting system works. But a couple of days ago Ed Miliband announced that the Labour candidate for 2016 will be chosen in a primary:
Any Londoner should be eligible to vote and all they will need to do is to register as a supporter of the Labour Party at any time up to the ballot.
Previously, candidates were chosen by party members, MPs and union members (your author fell into this latter category and was very surprised to receive a ballot paper). There might be a small admin fee involved, but there'll be absolutely nothing stopping all of us from signing up and influencing, or perverting, the selection process. Ken Livingstone, who won't stand again, is apparently worried that the press could influence who wins but, let's be honest, that happens during the actual election anyway, so we might as well subject the initial process to the same tests.
As ridiculous as it might seem, given the election was last May, we're probably only about a year away from the selection taking place (Livingstone beat Oona King to the nomination in September 2010). These are the people whose hats we expect to see in the ring:
- David Lammy, Tottenham MP who initially fancied his chances for 2012
- Lord Andrew Adonis, former transport secretary. We've been quietly expecting him to announce his candidacy for some time now
- Stella Creasy, the Walthamstow MP known for campaigning against knife crime and payday loan companies
- Sadiq Khan, MP for Tooting and currently shadow minister for London
- Christian Wolmar, transport expert and the only one who's declared his interest
- Tessa Jowell, MP for Dulwich and West Norwood and carrying a lot of political capital since the Olympics.
The New Statesman and Evening Standard also tip Diane Abbott, Oona King, Jon Cruddas and Alan Johnson to stand, though at this stage it's a bit like casting the new Doctor: everyone who could possibly be mentioned is being mentioned.
But who will the eventual candidate be up against? Boris Johnson seems to be toying with the idea of a third term, despite making it a 2008 manifesto pledge not to stand again. The current Mayor admitted in an LBC interview that he thinks about it, and giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee earlier this week made an oblique reference to his chances of re-election in 2016*. Is he testing the waters? For a giggle, Mayorwatch had a stab at an imagined announcement.
* Actual quote: "People know that if the crime figures aren’t good at the end of my mayoral term, then I will be marked down heavily for that, and if I were standing again, my chances would be considerably diminished".