Outsider draws first blood in Labour’s battle for London Mayor


The Camden Centre hosted the first hustings ahead of Labour’s selection of a candidate to run for Mayor of London next May, with all six runners clearly desperate to differentiate themselves without causing too much strife within the party.

Bar 100/1 rank outsider Christian Wolmar, a journalist by trade, the field is crammed with five former Labour minsters or shadow ministers, so spotting policy differences between them isn’t so straightforward, but it’s safe to say 6/1 Tottenham MP David Lammy did his claims no harm.

According to Ladbrokes’ market, former Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell and ex-Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan have this race sewn up between them at 11/10 and 6/4, yet the former was among a number of candidates to defer to Lammy’s plan for housing in London.

Housing was the first question up on the night, unsurprisingly considering the scale of accommodation shortages in the capital, with approximately 6,000 Londoners sleeping on the streets every night and many more illegally squatting, often following evictions.

Khan insisted that, as one of eight children brought up in a Wandsworth council house, the housing issue is ‘personal to him’, but didn’t manage much substance on the matter.

Meanwhile, Jowell’s ‘Homes for London’ initiative, which involves brokering deals with developers and building on ‘6000 acres’ of land available to the Mayor, sounded like merely a facet of Lammy’s £10bn ‘London Housing Bonds’ plan, unveiled a fortnight ago by the 42-year-old.

Both Jowell and Hackney MP Diane Abbott, a 20/1 shot to win Labour’s nomination despite a typically polished performance in Camden, mentioned Lammy’s plan favourably during their answers, which strongly suggests they don’t have a better one.

Harrow MP Gareth Thomas showed why he’s a 33/1 no-hoper in this race when pledging his support for a third runway at Heathrow, putting him at odds with likely Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith, but also much of the city.

There was a cheer for Wolmar when the rail enthusiast broke ranks in outlining his outright opposition to HS2, which will be the cause of untold upheaval in Camden if it ever gets going, but the best the 65-year-old can realistically hope for in this race is exposure, and maybe a lesser job in City Hall afterwards.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Iain Houten

Iain has been contributing pieces to various websites on an array of subjects, including sports, politics and art, for over four years. Despite blue being his favourite colour, the teams he supports all wear red.