Back by popular demand! Sadiq Khan gets Labour conference reprieve
London Labour MPs were unhappy with the mayor being denied a speaking slot.
Sadiq Khan appears to have elbowed his way back on to the Labour conference agenda after a behind-the-scenes row about whether he should be allowed on the main stage.
At a meeting on Tuesday, Labour's ruling National Executive Committee backed a plan cooked up by the Labour leader’s office to deny Khan a speaking slot.
However, the Conference Arrangements Committee, which decides on the line-up for the event, has overturned that decision following protests from London Labour MPs including Wes Streeting, Neil Coyle, Andy Slaughter and Karen Buck.
Explaining the u-turn, a party insider said: "It was felt that we needed to hear from people who have shown what Labour can deliver in power."
A source in the leader’s office insisted: "This isn’t personal. There is a desire to give members more time to speak and debate."
Meanwhile a source close to the mayor tried to claim that Khan was not bothered about speaking anyway: "Sadiq is happy either way. It's great if he can give a speech to Labour members - he'd better start writing one. But we don't want this to be a distraction from the big issues being addressed at conference."
The news that Khan was being kept off the agenda – along with Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham – was first reported by HuffPost UK. It is understood that Burnham is still being sidelined.
Defending the move, allies of Corbyn had briefed that they wanted to allot more time for party members to speak in the main hall.
But others suspected that left wingers wanted to take revenge for Burnham’s absence from a pro-Corbyn Momentum rally in Manchester after his triumph in the mayoral race. And for Khan’s critical comments about the leader, such as saying that Corbyn was "very unwise and disrespectful" to refuse to sing the national anthem.
Critics of the move also suggested that Khan’s keynote speech last year – during which he used the word ‘power’ 34 times and appeared to be positioning himself as the election winner who could save the Labour party - might have had something to do with it.
Photo credit: Press Association.