Sadiq Khan has been firmly endorsed by Labour Party members across the capital to be their candidate for the 2024 London Mayor election, meaning he could become the first politician to serve in the role for three terms.
After securing re-selection following the last of a series of local membership meetings Khan expressed pride that Labour members, along with unions and other affiliated organisations who also had a vote, had “put their faith in me” to again be their candidate.
On London understands that Khan received a 96% endorsement to go forward automatically, with only a small number of local parties wishing to allow possible alternative candidates to challenge him.
Khan placed environmental and council house-building policies at the top of a list of his achievements since he was first elected in 2016 and described the next mayoral contest, scheduled for 2 May 2024, as being “an opportunity for Londoners to send a message to the Tories, not only for crashing the economy but for their anti-London approach”.
The Mayor accused the Conservative government of damaging public services, refusing to take “national action to tackle the climate emergency” and of engaging in “appalling attempts to stoke division between our communities for political gain”, and he drew attention to changes in the election process the Tories are bringing about, which the Mayor said “appear deliberately designed to disenfranchise minority communities and disproportionately affect Labour voters”.
The next mayoral election is set to be the first since the creation of the Greater London Authority in 1999 to be conducted under a First Past the Post system, replacing the traditional Supplementary Vote arrangement, a change thought likely to split the non-Conservative vote in London to Tory advantage.
It will probably also be the first election conducted in London where electors have to produce an approved form of identification at the polling station before being allowed to vote. Khan’s criticism of the possible impact of Voter ID is in line with that of the Electoral Reform Society among others.
With Labour far ahead of the Conservatives in national opinion polls and the Tory position in London sliding further at this year’s borough elections, Khan at this stage looks on course to overcome any disadvantage the government’s election rules changes might impose, although the timing of the next general election could have a separate effect.
This has to be called within five years of the last one, held just over three years ago, and could in theory take place on the same day as the mayoral contest. If the general election is held later than the mayoral election, Khan might benefit from ongoing Conservative national troubles in advance of the national poll, with London voters taking the chance to “send a message” to them as he has described. Should the Conservatives call a general election before 2 May 2024 – though this seems unlikely at present – and be defeated, that motivation would disappear.
Khan has been unique among London Mayors so far in having to work exclusively with a national government formed by a different political party, and his relationship with his predecessor Boris Johnson and his national government team, particularly over the funding of Transport for London, was acrimonious, including throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
A Labour national government elected in the same year as he secured a third term as Mayor would create hopes for of a more productive partnership for London, with Khan and Labour leader Keir Starmer appear to get on well. In 2015, Starmer endorsed Khan when he was seeking to become Labour’s candidate for the 2016 City Hall race.
Securing his party’s backing does not, of itself, mean Khan will definitely run again – that is a decision he will take himself. However, the strong indications are that he will go ahead. The first two directly-elected Mayors of London, Ken Livingstone (2000-2008) and Johnson (2008-2016), each served two four-year terms. Livingstone sought a third, but was defeated by Johnson both times. There is no legal limit on the number of times someone can served as Mayor of London.
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