The defeat of the Blairite Tessa Jowell in the selection race for to be Labour’s candidate for London mayor is a decisive blow against the Blairite faction of the party.
The victor is Sadiq Khan, and the roles both Jeremy Corbyn and of the third-placed candidate Diane Abbott were decisive.
Unlike the contest to elect Labour’s Leader the entire Mayoral selection campaign was dominated by pledges to alleviate the effects of austerity. It was widely understood prior to the contest that Abbott would stand and run on an anti-austerity platform, as well as her known commitments to anti-racism and opposition to wars.
Other candidates took account of this and tacked to the left. Nearly all of them pledged to freeze and/or cut fares. Even the Blairite Jowell pledged to bring back Sure Start and to build new homes. All of the candidates offered variations on these themes. This is a tribute to the Abbott candidacy.
Abbott’s vote (see full breakdown here) is impressive, with some polls indicating nearly a doubling of her support during the campaign period. She focused on the key issue of austerity and also used her platform to defend refugees and migrants, argue for peace not war and crucially oppose attempts to cheat Jeremy Corbyn out of votes in the Labour Leadership race.
For over thirty years Abbott has been a key part of the Labour left and will continue to be a vital voice in the period ahead.
The contrast between Labour’s Mayoral selection and the Labour Leadership contest is stark. In the latter Corbyn’s three opponents initially outbid each other on reactionary views. Government spending under New Labour was attacked from the right, as being too high and Ed Miliband’s general election campaign criticised as too left wing. It was only after Corbyn entered the race that they belatedly tacked to the left.
The Labour right in London has suffered a significant defeat. Their champion Jowell was trounced 59% to 41%. The Mayoral campaign and possibly the Mayoralty would have been positions to organise against the London left. The right were defeated and a key part was played by Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn.