A recent Survation poll predicted that, on current numbers, Labour would pick up every seat in London at the next election bar one (Twickenham, which would stay in the hands of the Liberal Democrats). That outcome is unlikely but, nonetheless, it seems fair to say Labour fancy their chances in a large number of the 21 Conservative-held seats in the capital, particularly given the results of May’s local elections, where Labour won Barnet and Wandsworth from the Tories.
Labour is currently selecting its candidates for the next general election, likely to be held in 2024. A number aspirant MPs have already been chosen while selection races are still taking place in others.
In Hendon, Labour re-selected its 2019 candidate David Pinto Duschinsky. The closest London’s class of 2024 has to a Red Prince, this charismatic prospective parliamentary candidate (PPC) is the son of political commentator Michael Pinto Duschinsky. A former advisor to Alastair Darling, the younger Pinto Duschinsky will have to overturn a majority of 4320 votes to unseat the Tory incumbent Matthew Offord.
The 2019 Labour candidate for Chingford & Woodford Green will also get another opportunity. Faiza Shaheen, the former director of the now defunct trade union-funded think tank CLASS turned NYU and LSE academic, fought a spirited campaign against former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith in her north east London home seat, losing by 1262 votes. She is, notably, the only candidate of the party’s left who has yet secured selection.
In Cities of London & Westminster, often known as “Two Cities”, Rachel Blake won a close race for selection. A councillor in neighbouring Tower Hamlets, Blake is politically moderate (she backed Lisa Nandy for leader in 2020) and well respected for her work as a council cabinet member. In May, she retained the Bow East seat she has held since 2014 in the face of Labour’s defeat by the Aspire Party. Labour fancies its chances against the Tory incumbent Nickie Aiken in Two Cities, but will have to avoid getting squeezed by the Liberal Democrats, who came second in 2019 with Chuka Umunna as their candidate, in order to win.
In Camberwell & Peckham – which even in 2019 returned a Labour majority of 33,780 – Harriet Harman is standing down after 40 years in parliament. The race to replace her as Labour’s candidate – and, barring some earth shattering change in political circumstance, its MP – has been hotly contested, and with the announcement on 5 October of the long list, it has also become controversial.
Maurice Mcleod, a councillor and anti-racism campaigner had the backing of the organised left, having won an internal primary. He also enjoys the backing of Unite the Union and ASLEF and a number of MPs, and has a strong local profile as councillor. Mcleod expected to make the long list but didn’t, an outcome viewed by many as the result of a factional attempt to keep the left’s of the party out of contention. Interestingly, south London MPs Fleur Anderson and Florence Eshalomi – neither of them from the party’s left- have expressed sadness at this decision.
Who did make the longlist? Miatta Fahnbulleh, a Liberia-born economist with an impressive CV – she has worked at the cabinet office and the IPPR, and is now director of the New Economics Foundation think thank – is considered to be on the soft left of the party and is a strong contender. Johnson Situ, a Unison-backed local councillor and advisor to Sadiq Khan is probably the strongest of the moderates. Also in that lane are local councillor Peter Babadu, and council cabinet member Evelyn Akoto.
Marina Ahmad, currently London Assembly member for Lambeth & Southwark (a seat she won having beaten Mcleod to the for selection, also made the longlist and has the backing of the GMB trade union. Neeraj Patil, a former mayor of Lambeth, is in the line up too.
In a seat with a large black community, the strong feeling in the party is that this seat should have a black candidate. Labour does particularly poorly at selecting black men. Mark Hendrick, David Lammy and Clive Lewis are the party’s only black male MPs and, despite work by campaign group the 1987 caucus on this issue, journalist Michael Crick recently noted that no black man has been selected in a winnable seat since 2011.
The selection contest of Kensington also looks particularly competitive. Former MP Emma Dent Coad – who won by 20 votes in 2017, only to lose the formerly safe Tory seat by 150 votes in 2019 – having announced she would be running for selection again, has today tweeted that “the Labour Party has blocked me from restanding”. On the party’s left, and somewhat gaffe prone – ranging from alleging that Prince Harry could not fly a helicopter to a more troubling series of comments about Conservative mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey which were widely regarded as racist – Dent Coad won regard for her campaigning in the aftermath of the Grenfell fire, but is likely to face a tough battle to contest her former seat again.
Other hopefuls include Hackney council cabinet member and My Life My Say founder Mete Coban, whose politics generally seem to be whatever you want them to be, former UN diplomat Salman Sheikh, and Joe Powell, co-founder of the Kensington Against Dirty Money campaign.
In Finchley & Golders Green, held since 2010 by the Tory Mike Freer, it would be deeply surprising to see anyone other than Sarah Sackman selected. A lawyer by trade, Sackman was the candidate in 2015, and ran what was widely regarded as an impressive and energetic campaign, upping Labour’s vote share against the national swing. The only other candidate with any traction is East Finchley councillor Arjun Mittra, who has picked up several local branch nominations.
Also hotting up is the race to represent Labour in Chipping Barnet, which Theresa Villiers holds with a majority of 1212. Emma Whysall, a local councillor who stood for the seat in 2017 and 2019, is running again. Also seeking selection is Dan Tomlinson, a senior economist at the Resolution Foundation and a Tower Hamlets councillor who led the erstwhile Labour council’s controversial Liveable Streets (low traffic neighbourhood) initiative in his former role as cabinet member for the environment. Josh Tapper, a 25 year-old who works in public affairs is alos in the field.
In Barking, where Margaret Hodge is retiring, a shortlist of two has been announced: long time and well respect council leader Darren Rodwell has long been the favourite, and will face off against councillor Josie Channer.
Another retirement seat in east London is Dagenham & Rainham, where Margaret Mullane, a councillor and office manager to the retiring MP Jon Cruddas, is the favourite. She is considered to be on the left of the party.
Image from London Communications Agency political map. Updated at 21:00.
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