Labour mayoral hopeful Dame Tessa Jowell said over the weekend that her party had “lost the art” of winning an election, and that a victory in the race to replace Boris Johnson would be the “first step” in a national comeback.
“The scale of our defeat five or six weeks ago shows that we have lost the art of winning the election,” Jowell said yesterday on the BBC.
She added: “It’s a very big moment and that’s why Labour has to choose a candidate who can win, who can unite London, and build one London.”
Jowell, a former cabinet minister, is widely seen as a frontrunner for the Labour candidacy, alongside Sadiq Khan, the MP for Tooting. Four other candidates are on the shortlist, including MPs David Lammy, Diane Abbott and Gareth Thomas, as well as writer Christian Wolmar.
Labour’s official candidate will be selected from the shortlist after a public vote this summer. Anybody who signs up as a member of the Labour party and pays £3 to be a registered supporter before 12 August will be entitled to vote, with the candidate to be announced at an event on 12 September, the same day as the winner of Labour’s national leadership contest is expected to be revealed.
Last week, Lammy demanded that his party scrap the £3 fee, saying it would leave out “thousands” of voters.
“This is a test for our party of how much we understand why we lost — not just at the general election but in the last two mayoral elections too — and whether we’re really willing to do what it takes to win back the trust of the voters we’ve lost in London,” he said on Friday, adding: “If we are, then we need to make it completely free of charge to take part.”
Whoever wins the Labour contest will face off against a yet to be selected Conservative candidate.
Deputy mayor Stephen Greenhalgh and former footballer Sol Campbell have already declared their desire to be on the Tory ticket, as has the bookmakers’ favourite, Zac Goldsmith, the MP for Richmond Park.