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Diane Abbott is Labour voters’ choice for London Mayor says YouGov

DIANE AbbottIn a YouGov poll for the London Evening Standard today, Diane Abbott emerges as Labour voters top choice for London Mayor with 29%, beating Tessa Jowell who topped a similar poll eight months ago but now has 24% (figures exclude don’t knows and those without preference). Sadiq Khan who is said to be Ed Miliband’s preferred candidate (hence his additional Shadow Cabinet responsibility as ‘shadow Minister for London’) emerges in fourth place with a disappointing 14%, behind David Lammy.

Although there is a year before the campaign will seriously get underway (and voting not until Autumn 2015), this does seem to consolidate Diane Abbott’s position as the candidate of the left. She was the keynote speaker at the London political conference of Unite the Union ten days ago and has strong support for their backing in the election.

The headline results are:

 [table id=31 /]

Unsurprisingly, when responses are analysed without reference to their party preference, a very high margin were classified as don’t know (30%) or were without preference (30%). For Labour voters, these figures dropped to 27% and 14% respectively.

According to the decision of the special conference this year, Labour’s London Mayoral selection will be a ‘closed primary’ – an OMOV election involving all individual party members and two categories of party supporters: “registered supporters” who could be anyone who pay a fairly nominal sum and “affiliated supporters” who are the trade union levy-payers who will have opted in. However, it is unlikely in the time available that many of these will have been recruited in advance.

Whilst Sadiq Khan is known to have got exactly the structure he wanted in the Collins report (a Left Futures informant overheard an assurance to him by Ray Collins to this effect), the decision on the process still rests with |Labour’s national executive. Since some leading trade union members of the NEC are known to favour circulating ballot papers to all levy papers – as was the previous practice – with votes being counted provided that levy-payers tick the box to opt into affiliated supporter status, the union influence may in fact not change so much from the process that selected Ken Livingstone. Furthermore Diane Abbott may well attract significant support amongst BME Londoners which could boost her support from new registered supporters.

There will of course be further changes in the candidates. Eddie Izzard was the leading candidate in the last poll  but has since said he won’t stand in 2016. Doreen Lawrence is a new possible candidate, but, like Izzard, not being a professional politician, she may end up failing to secure enough support from party activists, a problem this poll suggests she already suffers amongst Labour voters. It is surely also unlikely that Lord Adonis will stand against his fellow Progress supporter, Tessa Jowell.

The New Statesman quotes an unnamed Labour staffer who works on London issues (and is therefore presumably close to Sadiq Khan though the Staggers does not say this) as saying:

I can’t imagine Diane Abbott doing that well amongst the PLP, especially considering some of the candidates she is apparently going up against. Personally, I must say the thought of her in charge of London and a multi-billion pound budget to boot is a truly terrifying prospect.”

Personally, I can’t imagine a staffer who works on London issues but appears not to know that what the PLP thinks matters little in this vote will have much of use to contribute to our knowledge let alone Sadiq Khan’s campaign. I find that someone like that may be close to someone who also wants to be in charge of London and a multi-billion pound budget truly terrifying.

What Diane clearly has to a much larger extent than the other possible candidates (other than Doreen Lawrence) is the ability to present as an outsider, the very characteristic that used to carry Ken Livingstone to victory.

The full YouGov results table is available here 

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  1. swatantra says:

    She’s my choice as well, but I admit I find her a bit annoying. She’s a typical media person with an overinflated ego, who loves the attention.

  2. Thom Kirkwood says:

    What about Christian Wolmar? The only declared candidate, a left-winger with big ideas – and experience – around housing and transport.

    Mayor of London should be about London, not about Westminster posturing. The Standard ignored him in the poll because they want it to be about Westminster: we owe it to London for it not to be.

    1. Jon Lansman says:

      Thom: You are right to mention Wolmar. He is a declared candidate. However good his ideas may be, however, I am sceptical about his ability to win the votes. I can’t see a journalist appealing in sufficient numbers to activists, and nor to those who might be attracted to someone from outside politics. What is his constituency? I rather think the Standard made a similar judgement.

      1. Thom Kirkwood says:

        It seems to me that he might get the ‘outside politics’ constituency to vote for him: people who are fed up with party control by Westminster insiders, and the same people who voted Ken into power. It is a problem that he has to overcome, though, and especially to get selected in the first place.

        1. Jon Lansman says:

          Thom: The people who might favour an ‘outsider’ in this particular selectorate are, in my view, likely to be ‘armchair’ party members, i.e. non-activists, or perhaps trade union levy payers. I don’t think either of these will see a journalist as an ‘outsider’. Some ordinary voters might but they won’t get a vote in this ‘primary’.

          1. Thom Kirkwood says:

            Probably true, I’m not denying that he’s got an uphill battle that he’s unlikely to win. It certainly doesn’t help that there’s a mainstream consensus of ‘ignore him’: even today’s LabourList survey. But he could win when it comes to hustings etc., and build a constituency.

            (I’d maybe like it if we had a rule for future elections that the candidate can’t be a sitting MP).

  3. Ric Euteneuer says:

    I’d never vote for Abbott in a month of Sundays. Faux left, no experience in local government, a permanent controversialist, and a gift to the Tories.

    1. Not true that I have no experience in local government. I was a Westminster councillor from 1982 to 1986 and an equalities advisor to Ken Livingstone in his first term as London Mayor.

      1. Ric Euteneuer says:

        And the majority party in Westminster at the time was..?..well, it certainly wasn’t Labour. And a shade under 30 years ago. No disrepect Diane, but frankly, I’d value someone more who has actually run something of some size or value.

        1. If by “running something” you mean someone who was a minister under New Labour, then you may find that for much of the London electorate that isn’t exactly a recommendation.

          1. Robert says:

            Good luck I really do hope you win.

  4. peter willsman says:

    Some months ago CLPD EC resolved that we would support Diane if she put her hat in the ring.We felt that her views were more in line with Labour’s progressive vision than any of the likely alternatives. Clearly Labour voters think the same as CLPD!!

    1. Thom Kirkwood says:

      I still have a problem with her hypocrisy on education. I know Hackney schools, and I can never take seriously that she believes in equality, which is a shame, because I generally agree with everything she says.

      1. Thom Kirkwood says:

        And sorry to keep bringing it up, but I think it’s importantly political as well as personal.

  5. I’m not at all surprised by this poll, I always thought the one showing Jowell in the lead was deeply suspect. And I’ve always thought Diane would be a brilliant candidate, having travelled around with her a bit in the leadership election, and finding she was mobbed wherever she went! If only she’d been elected Leader of the Labour Party, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in now. If anyone is in Leytonstone next Wednesday 2nd July, Diane is speaking at a fundraiser for original Labour Briefing – tickets only £12 and selling fast! Contact me if you’re interested.

  6. Ann says:

    regarding Christian Wolmar, Abbott started In media, and Livingstone and Boris,both had careers in journalism,

    As for Diana Abbott would be a disaster she maybe popular with members because she’s known, but her hard left past , David Lammy would be a lot better, Jowell’s a has been, Doreen Lawrence is a lovely lady but I don’t think she had what it takes.

    1. And which of my “hard left” views would be disaster for London: my feminism? support for LGBT rights? or is it my opposition to the Iraq war?

      1. Thom Kirkwood says:

        Ken Livingstone has never been a journalist: he became a media personality by way of being the leader of the GLC.

        Diane, exactly. Londoners will never go for a politician with feminist, anti-homophobia, and anti-war views. Remember how Livingstone never managed to win an election in London ever?

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