Sadiq Khan wins Labour mayoral race by a landslide. Now the real fight begins
In recent weeks Sadiq Khan's team seemed surprisingly bullish of his chances of winning Labour's mayoral selection.
I say surprisingly, because the bookies, pundits and polls all suggested that Jowell would win the nomination, even if only narrowly.
I wasn't entirely convinced of this and thought Khan might squeeze through thanks to the surge in new Corbyn-supporting members. I was also mindful of Livingstone's prediction to me back in March that Khan would win thanks to his understanding of the Labour machine in London.
Ken's prediction seemed plausible. After all, almost nobody knows how London Labour works better than Ken. But without any polling, I thought it was foolish to predict one way to the other. I certainly didn't think he would win by the kind of margin he eventually did. Even senior members of Khan's team I spoke to in recent weeks thought the result was on a knife-edge.
But as it turned out, the briefings from some in Khan's camp that they would win in a 'wipeout' proved entirely accurate. Jowell did win among full members in the first round, a fact which could come back to haunt Khan. However, overall Khan won by 59% to 41%. A remarkable achievement against a popular and credible candidate like Jowell.
Sadiq Khan now faces a battle to win City Hall back for Labour
But now Khan has won he faces a much tougher battle to win City Hall back for Labour. Labour have won just one of the past four mayoral elections. The likely winner of the Tory nomination, Zac Goldsmith, is an independent figure with clear cross-party appeal. He has also secured the help of Lynton Crosby who has won the last two London mayoral elections on a trot.
Khan is a skilful politician with a strong grasp of Labour's internal politics. His endorsement by Livingstone and the trade unions helped him to win a contest that few people, even within the party, had paid much attention to.
But it remains to be seen whether he has the wider appeal necessary to win over the London public. What little polling we've seen is at best mixed for Khan. All polls but one have shown him trailing in a match-up with Goldsmith, whereas Jowell was predicted to have won much more easily. Could this be a case of Labour once again choosing a candidate they like best, rather than who they expect is most likely to win?
The Tories are confident that this is the case. Friends of Goldsmith have been privately saying for months that Khan would be their ideal candidate to go up against. Lines of attack have already been formulated and Khan can expect to face some heavy attacks and face them soon. Within minutes of Khan winning the nomination, the bookies had shortened their odds on the Tories retaining City Hall.
Will any of it matter, or will it ultimately come down to a question of which candidate, the London public can most see in the job? After all, the last four mayoral elections have mostly been about personality. In a battle of personalities between Ken and Steve Norris, Ken won twice and in a battle of personalities between Ken and Boris, Boris won twice. How might the Zac vs. Sadiq battle shape up? We're about to find out.