It is the year 2000. Will the London mayoralty catch on?

It is the year 2000. Will the London mayoralty catch on?

Boringly, the 2020 London Mayor election campaign is already unofficially underway. At least it underlines that the mayoralty has established itself as a London institution that matters. That was not a certainty when the first mayoral election approached back in 2000, a product of the first Tony Blair government’s devolution reforms. But, as the edition of the now defunct London Programme embedded below shows, there was plenty of excited anticipation in the months approaching it.

Jeffrey Archer had been frontrunner to be the Tory candidate before coming badly unstuck. Step forward, On London contributor Steve Norris. When the programme went out three months before Londoners went to the polls, there was a three-way tussle to become Labour’s candidate between Glenda Jackson, Frank Dobson and Ken Livingstone, who Blair loathed. Dobson came out on top, Livingstone ran as an independent and you know what happened next.

The programme features comment from journalists Simon Jenkins and the late Simon Hoggart and from Professor Tony Travers. It captures Livingstone in his prime, a “loony left” hate figure rehabilitated as a cheeky chappie iconoclast. “Very London,” as Jenkins puts it. The late Malcolm McLaren is in the mix too. It lasts for 25 minutes. Don’t let the trailer for Taggart at the beginning confuse you. Or the use of the theme music from Reservoir Dogs.

Footnotes: The letter to Labour members from Tony Blair was received by wife, a party member at that time. I couldn’t believe how unsubtle the “vote Frank” message was. The Evening Standard front page article briefly shown was by Patrick Hennessy, who is now Mayor Khan’s director of communications. The result of the inaugural London Mayor election is here.

Categories: Culture

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