Labour mayoral hopefuls fight to be Corbyn’s London heir
The shadow cabinet may be tearing their hair out over the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn becoming Labour leader, but the party's London mayoral hopefuls are much more excited about the surge in support for the left-winger.
The reason for this excitement stems from the huge Corbyn-inspired influx of new Labour supporters in London since May. The surge has potentially massive implications, which could overturn what previously looked like an easy win for Tessa Jowell.
Chief among those seeking to benefit from the surge in Corbyn-supporters is Sadiq Khan. Khan's backers claim their campaign is already feeling the benefit from the influx. Importantly, Khan has the key support of Corbyn-ally Ken Livingstone who has urged London Labour supporters to back a joint Corbyn-Khan ticket. There have been persistent rumours that the former mayor has been offered a job under a Khan mayoralty. Whatever the truth of this, the endorsement is an important one and Khan's team were out in force handing out leaflets at Corbyn's Islington rally at the weekend.
Khan has also been keen to attack Corbyn's critics, telling the Evening Standard last week that "these personal attacks are seriously hurting Labour's chances of winning the mayoral election next year and the general election in 2020".
Yet there is very little obvious crossover between Khan and Corbyn supporters, either on social media or at Corbyn rallies. Khan was a key supporter of Miliband but he has never been seen as a hard-left firebrand in the Corbyn mould.
Purely anecdotal, but if the response to the Khan leafleters is any guide, don't think Corbynites going for him in that big a way.
— Stephen Bush (@stephenkb) August 21, 2015
A far more likely fit politically is Diane Abbot, who is a close ally of Corbyn and has a very similar voting record. Corbyn appeared at the launch of Abbott's campaign but has not officially endorsed her (despite some previous confusion over this point). Abbott has been pushing the Corbyn connections hard during recent weeks. Could she be about to pull off a surprise success next month?
— Diane for London (@DianeforLondon) August 23, 2015
Outsider Christian Wolmar is also keen to assume the Corbyn mantle and today tweeted that he had secured the support of a key Corbyn aide. Indeed, much of Wolmar's campaign has focused on being the "only non-career politician" among the candidates. Could Corbyn supporters unhappy with the 'Westminster elite' lend their support to Wolmar instead? Wolmar's supporters are hoping they will.
— Wolmar for London (@wolmarforlondon) August 24, 2015
Even current frontrunner Tessa Jowell hasn't been completely immune to the Corbyn surge. A supporter of Jowell whispered to me recently that what Jowell and Corbyn share is that both have an "optimistic message" for Labour supporters.
An alliance between the Blairite Jowell and the hard-left Corbyn may seem rather unlikely, but the former Olympics minister worked closely with Ken Livingstone when he was in office and could potentially do the same with Corbyn as Labour leader. It's certainly notable that, while Jowell began her campaign bashing the mansion tax, she has ended it with a much more left-leaning focus.
From every crisis there comes an opportunity. While the Labour establishment may be in a state of panic about the chaos engulfing the party, there are some who believe the Corbyn revolution could work to their benefit instead.