Tessa Jowell emerges as favourite in London mayoral race

Tessa Jowell has taken an early lead in the race to replace Boris Johnson as London mayor.

The former culture secretary has been nominated by sixteen of the local London Labour parties to declare so far.

Former shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan is in close second place, scooping up 12 nominations.

Under Labour party rules, constituency Labour party's (CLPs) can nominate two candidates, the first of which must be a woman.

David Lammy is currently in third place with three nominations, followed by Diane Abbott and Gareth Thomas with one each. Outsider candidate Christian Wolmar has yet to receive a nomination.

Under the rules, candidates must receive a nomination from at least five CLPs in order to reach the shortlist for mayor. Fifty-seven CLPs have yet to publicly declare their choice.

These early nominations indicate that Tessa Jowell is currently on course to become Labour's candidate for mayor.

However, while CLP nominations do suggest she is ahead with party members, the nature of the primary process means Khan could still clinch it thanks to the support of union affiliates and party supporters.

Politics.co.uk understands that Khan has secured the backing of Labour's biggest union-funders Unite, who will declare for him next month.

The union faced allegations last week that it was already canvassing on behalf of Khan. The union have strongly denied this. However, Politics.co.uk uncovered evidence of one Labour councillor being encouraged to back him by the union's call-centre.

Khan remains a close second favourite to win the nomination according to the bookies and a recent survey of Labour members by Labourlist. He has also secured the endorsement of the last Labour mayor Ken Livingstone and former mayoral hopefuls Oona King and Margaret Hodge. Both Hodge and Livingstone claim that Labour needs to elect somebody from a younger generation.

Asked about the comments last week, Jowell told reporters that this was not an argument pursued by Livingstone when he was running for mayor.

Jowell last week launched her campaign at a youth centre in Brixton, surrounded by young activists and local rappers.

In an emotional and slick presentation, a tearful Jowell said that she wanted to stand for "one London" and said that solving London's housing crisis would be the central aim of her mayoralty. She has also made her role as part of the team which brought the Olympics to London, a central part of her campaign.

Since then Jowell has secured the public endorsement of former home secretary Alan Johnson. Johnson is a hugely popular figure in the party and was previously pushed to stand for both the mayoralty and the Labour leadership.

If Jowell does secure the Labour nomination, she would emerge as the strong favourite to win back City Hall for the party.

A series of YouGov polls for the Evening Standard, found that Jowell had strong cross-party support, especially among Conservative voters. In an interview with the Evening Standard last week, Jowell claimed that the Tories would be "quaking in their boots" if she were selected.

The Conservatives have yet to begin their selection process. So far only Ivan Massow, Stephen Greenhalgh and Andrew Boff have declared their intention to stand. Zac Goldsmith continues to resist growing calls for him to enter the race.